Heads' tawse for thought

24th November 2000 at 00:00
SOME things at least have moved on. As the discipline debate raged at the Headteachers' Association of Scotland (HAS) annual shindig in Crieff (pages 4 and 5), a local antiques shop was selling a Loch-gelly or two (tawse, for the uninitiated) at between pound;45 and pound;65. It was enough to send the more mature heidies off to the recesses of their cupboards.

The new discipline regime in schools, of course, comes with its own price tag. Alternatives to the belt, excluding pupils even, cost money. But staff are keen to have a go, at least according to Dan McGinty, head f St Columba's High in Perth: "I know this because they told me. 'This place is going to the dogs,' they would say."

But heads have to tread warily, as McGinty acknowledged. "Teachers are suspicious of headteachers with vision - especially in the Catholic school."

The conference discussion showed that there's nothing heads like more than a good dose of discipline. It's a challenge. As Douglas Bader, the top gun at Perth Grammar, has been heard to describe the most "demanding" pupils, they are "that group who were never conquered by the Romans".

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