Editor's comment

18th May 2007 at 01:00
The first conference of the "union season" was a useful reminder that, while political match-making may come and go, school realities carry on regardless.

The annual gathering of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association (p4) had the usual mix of the old and the new. Discipline will never be far below the surface and, no doubt, teachers and opposition politicians will make their judgments about the effectiveness of Alex Salmond's new minority government as much on its ability to deal with classroom behaviour as on any other issue - just as they did with Jack McConnell's administration.

While discipline may be old hat, it also wears disturbing new ones - thanks to the pervasive power of technology. The potential for mobile phones and the web to wreak havoc with the most carefully-laid discipline strategy is clear. Young people, it is often said, will always be a step or three ahead of teachers when it comes to using ICT for learning: the same holds true for behaviour.

McConnell's administration was often accused of lacking the "big ideas" in education and elsewhere. Discipline, however, is one area where the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition could not be faulted for effort. A string of initiatives - staged intervention, early intervention, restorative practices, the motivated school, the solution-oriented school, behaviour co-ordinators - poured forth at a bewildering pace. Initiatives, certainly, although many teachers may see it as initiative-itis.

As a new minority administration at Holyrood is looking for consensus to build majorities for policies, perhaps now is the time to do just that on school discipline. Revisiting the former executive's strategy will do no harm on this most pressing - and depressing - of issues.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today