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The right tools

CHARLES Clarke's promise to use "every tool in the box" to tackle pupil indiscipline deserves our applause. His commitment to back tough talk with substantial investment and support, both for teachers and those children who need help, shows that at long last the Government has a policy capable of bringing much needed relief - and respect - to hard-pressed professionals.

Proposed changes to appeals procedures, which will force tribunals to consider the needs of the school as well as the excluded pupil, are also sensible so long as the wider need to retain difficult-to-teach youngsters in the school system is not ignored. Parenting contracts backed by threatened court orders and even, in extreme cases, fixed-penalty fines, might also prove useful "tools" as part of family support programmes provided by education social workers. But headteachers will not want to impose fines on parents. Nor should they.

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