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The prying game

THE Educational Institute of Scotland is right to argue that teachers, parents and pupils can only thrive on the basis of mutual trust. It will not be the only organisation concerned at the implications of the Scottish Executive's attempt to crack down on potential delinquents, however young they might be (page three).

On the surface, ministers are taking a hammer to crack a few nuts by suggesting that teachers from nursery stages upwards should in effect clype on children who are aggressive or neglected. This is not the only apparent overreaction at the moment: the unnecessary aggravation caused to the small but determined band of parents who choose to educate their children at home is symptomatic of the same zeal.

There is, of course, a distinction to be made. Teachers have always monitored classes for signs of positive and negative experiences - not least to inform their own teaching as well as to check on pupils' progress. That process, however, is to do with attainment. But it is also about behaviour that can affect attainment.

The crux of the present issue is exactly what information teachers should pass on about children at risk - and to whom. There is a civil liberties issue here as well as one about the limits of interventions in pupils' lives.

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