Gove to put discipline at the heart of Tory keynote speech

1st October 2010 at 01:00
Education Secretary to tell conference of commitment to stripping away red tape

Education Secretary Michael Gove will focus on discipline and keeping order in the classroom in his keynote speech when he addresses his party conference next week, The TES understands.

Mr Gove will tell party members in Birmingham that strong discipline will be central to his plans for schools, adding that his department has already taken measures to strip away red tape that prevents teachers keeping discipline in the classroom.

Last week, Mr Gove told the BBC that working-class parents wanted strict discipline and school uniforms when they sent their children to school, and he is expected to build on that when he talks next Tuesday.

Over the summer, he announced he will end the need to give 24 hours' written notice for detention, and will extend school search powers to allow staff to search pupils for mobile phones, pornography and cigarettes.

The Department for Education is also expected to tighten legislation around teachers' use of force in the classroom, to "tip the balance" back in favour of the teacher.

But as The TES reported last week, Mr Gove appears to be going back on his pledge to give teachers anonymity if they have been accused by pupils in a bid to protect them against false allegations.

The focus on discipline is part of the Conservatives' wider plans to bring more "traditional values" back into England's schools.

On announcing the measures in July, schools minister Nick Gibb said: "Heads and teachers know best how to improve behaviour but are too often constrained by regulations which inhibit them from maintaining control of the classroom."

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she welcomed Mr Gove's stance on discipline, but said there were "far bigger fish to fry" in terms of the Government's school reforms. "It is always very welcome when a secretary of state focuses on discipline; it is one of the biggest issues that face teachers in schools," she said.

"Teachers do not want to have to worry that their careers will be damaged if they discipline a pupil in school.

"But there are lots of other questions that we would like Michael Gove to address in his speech next week, such as how will setting up academies and free schools, which will create more division among the haves and the have nots, help the most disadvantaged pupils? Choice harms the most vulnerable."

Dr Bousted said she also wants to know what the Government will do to ensure fair admissions in academies and free schools.

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