Bid to put bullies in care draws a raspberry

29th April 2005 at 01:00
The conference, attended by 250 people from a wide range of interests, heard Ewan Aitken, the local authorities' spokesman, make the controversial suggestion that persistent bullies should be removed from their families and placed in foster care.

The case for the authorities intervening in the lives of some families had been trailed in advance and was first raised in Mr Aitken's monthly TES Scotland column on March 4.

Mr Aitken, executive member for children and families on Edinburgh City Council, stressed it was a solution that should be tried in a small number of cases and only after all other strategies had failed.

He suggested: "We need to look long and hard at the potential for using fostering services so that we take the undoubted risk of giving the individuals in a family space from each other, to work on the things that have made their relationships destructive." This was not about punishment, but about rebuilding families.

Mr Peacock, who pledged further action to back teachers in the fight against indiscipline and bullying, briefly dismissed Mr Aitken's suggestion by saying he would not be considering fostering as a compulsory solution.

However, Mr Aitken said later that this did not mean the suggestion had been ruled out. "I can deliver it myself - it is one of the benefits of local government," he said. However, he indicated it was an area that had to be further explored.

Mr Peacock said it was the Executive's intention to make increasing use of parenting orders where parents continued to neglect their responsibilities or wilfully obstructed a school. These orders put parents under a legal duty to undertake guidance or counselling.

Frank Lennon, headteacher of St Modan's High in Stirling, said too many professionals were trying to run the lives of children needing support.

"The problem is that not one of the professions has the moral confidence to say, 'I am running the show'."

Leader 22

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