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More to come on discipline

The Scottish Office announcement last week on steps to tackle indiscipline is the first part of "a comprehensive package of measures" to be revealed early in the new year.

Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, has invited education authorities to bid for Pounds 160,000 to pilot new approaches to promoting good behaviour, strengthening the trend towards the use of praise and rewards. The projects will be based initially in the four cities.

While the Educational Institute of Scotland has emphasised that reductions in class sizes will make a more pertinent contribution to the problem, the Government is clearly anxious to be seen to be "doing something" even on slender resources. Bids will only be accepted if the school and education authority agree to keep the project going after funding ceases, which has further deepened union scepticism.

Mr Robertson's announcement follows a summit meeting with the teacher unions in February. It acknowledges that "there is no single solution to indiscipline". Councils will be asked to concentrate on combating "widespread, low-level indiscipline", which is said to be the major concern of teachers.

The initiative will be jointly headed by Professor Pamela Munn of the Scottish Schools' Ethos Network based at Moray House Institute in Edinburgh and Cameron Munro of the Scottish Initiative on Attendance and Absence at Jordanhill, both of which are sponsored by the Inspectorate's audit unit.

Mr Robertson will unveil the rest of the promised package when he delivers the keynote address at a conference in Edinburgh on January 17 aimed at "promoting positive discipline in Scottish schools". This will include guidance on the reporting of violence towards staff.

The latest move follows on from the Scottish Office "action on indiscipline" packs issued in 1992. The Inspectorate believes it is now time to go beyond that general guidance and give a lead in promoting practical, school-based developments.

Among the projects HMI is keen to support are those which involve pupils in drawing up school rules, use peer support to entrench positive behaviour, engage parents actively in disciplinary initiatives, deploy "the structured use of praise and rewards" across the school, and take steps to give pupils experience of success and improved motivation through the curriculum.

HMI will also invite schools to devise imaginative school schemes that involve links with behavioural units, special schools and the wider community. Discipline should be improved on a broad front and the initiative should not be "targeted on a few individuals exhibiting highly challenging behaviour".

A key aim of the initiative, which is part of the current drive to highlight the links between a positive school ethos, good discipline and attainment, is that the lessons learnt should be widely publicised.

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