In the dark on what to do

8th October 2004 at 01:00
The majority of secondary teachers now believe indiscipline is a major concern - but most primary staff do not share that view. David Henderson reports

Three years after the Scottish Executive launched its initiative on discipline, half of primary teachers and more than a third of secondary teachers are totally unaware of the Better Behaviour - Better Learning strategy.

The admission, in a policy update published this week, confirms the view of teachers' leaders that many in the classroom have yet to recognise the benefits of the national campaign for improved pupil behaviour.

Remarkably, 46 per cent of primary heads and 45 per cent of secondary heads say they have not received training on school discipline in their current post.

Equally significant is the statement that 17.7 per cent of primary teachers and 43.3 per cent of secondary teachers find misbehaviour difficult to deal with, suggesting that here again much more needs to be done on training.

Revealing the findings of the research study led by Professor Pamela Munn (opposite page) and the revised version of Better Behaviour in Scottish Schools, Peter Peacock, Education Minister, promised a package of further measures to improve pupil behaviour after taking advice from unions, headteachers and local authorities.

Addressing an audience at Airdrie Academy, Mr Peacock pledged a three-yearly survey - starting next year - of teacher and pupil perceptions; better research into what works; detailed discipline reports to provide a "robust" picture across Scotland; and clear guidance to local authorities on keeping full records of violent incidents towards staff.

Ewan Aitken, the local authorities' education spokesman, said the findings challenged the commonly expressed view of "a meltdown in Scottish schools" and called for them to work with other agencies to address problems.

Sheena Wardhaugh, president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said:

"There is a commitment from the minister to support teachers and the removal of targets for exclusion are extremely helpful."

Alex Easton, president of the Headteachers' Association of Scotland, said:

"We cope with difficult youngsters well but a small minority can have an inordinate influence." Alan McKenzie, president of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association, described the latest package as "a starting point" but warned that some senior managers were frightened to lift the cap on exclusions.

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