Behaviour issue still divides staff

6th October 2006 at 01:00
It should not surprise us that those closest to pupil indiscipline should have the most negative views of it. For the first time, this fourth survey of behaviour in Scottish schools canvasses the views of additional support staff. Their views are even more negative than those of teachers. That may, in part, be because they are relying on personal experience rather than professional training when it comes to discipline. Many may also be employed to support the most challenging pupils. But the report also suggests pupils may feel that support staff do not command the same authority or respect as teachers.

The report contains no major surprises. Low-level indiscipline continues to sap stamina and demotivate teachers; violent incidents are rare and likely to occur outside the classroom; and well-behaved pupils are fed up of the impact on their education from those who consistently disrupt.

But the gap between headteachers' and teachers' perceptions of discipline is a concern. The Headteachers' Association of Scotland argues that its members can take a more balanced over-arching view, and laughs off any suggestion that it is a view conditioned in their cosy offices. There is little doubt, however, that those heads who offer the greatest support to their teaching and other staff have the best discipline. Consistency matters, and teachers need to know they will be backed up by their senior managers.

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