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Rowdy kids send GTC on the warpath

Peter Peacock, the inspectorate and Professor Pamela Munn have all "missed the point" in dismissing teachers' alarms about classroom indiscipline, according to the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

In as hard-hitting a response as you can find, the council on Wednesday asserted: "Teachers have changed. They are no longer prepared to tolerate a rising tide of continual, low-level indiscipline. They are adopting a zero tolerance to violence."

A GTC discipline working group, chaired by Professor Douglas Weir of Strathclyde University, considered disbanding after producing its report but is continuing its national monitoring role because of "inappropriate comments made recently by eminent authorities".

It chastises Mr Peacock after the Education Minister said that there was no evidence of a rise in violent incidents against staff. Professor Munn, dean of education at Edinburgh University, comes under fire for saying that the moral panic about rising indiscipline is nothing new and mostly mistaken.

And, lastly, the inspectorate is condemned after its statement that it has so far found little evidence of a major decline in standards of pupil behaviour.

Professor Weir's group says that teachers are now willing to admit that their absence from school is down to stress. "There is a new professionalism emerging across the country which no longer covers up indiscipline in the mistaken belief that cover-ups maintain the reputation of the education service.

"The new professionalism declares that indiscipline is prevalent and challenges the (Scottish) Executive and local councils to do more to deal with it," it comments.

Members of the group emphasise that teacher stress from indiscipline and violence is a "real issue". But teachers are not yet fully reporting incidents. "Indeed, our estimate is that the figures still under-report violence and stress," the group points out.

Published statistics are said to represent the tip of the iceberg. It should be "a mark of professional to report violence, acknowledge stress and then to deal with them".

The GTC group points out that many welcome Executive initiatives remain short-term measures which are not included in core budgets. A multi-agency approach is therefore essential if national or local initiatives are to succeed.

Picking up a recent theme from the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association and National Association of Schoolmasters' Union of Women Teachers conferences, the group also supports the view that "parental responsibility cannot be avoided".

It is also anticipating developments from the forthcoming review of the 3-18 curriculum, which is expected to back moves to more flexible and appropriate provision for many disaffected pupils.

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