Invest earlier for bigger rewards

11th February 2005 at 00:00
Ruth Kelly's intention to install a policy of "zero tolerance" for low-level poor behaviour would possibly have more substance to it were it not an election year and announced at the same time as Conservative plans to install special units for serious misbehaviour. In the case of the latter, someone should tell Tim Collins that many of these "units" have been disbanded over the past few years, either in the name of inclusion or as a budget cut.

Zero tolerance was, I recall, the rallying cry of both New York mayor Rudy Giuliani and the police chief of Sunderland in their respective crusades against crime.

Ms Kelly's idea of cutting down on lower-level, debilitating, misbehaviour has merit but she needs to look at this alongside resources and the training of some parents who profess a belief in the disciplining of pupils until it includes their child. More "revolutionary", perhaps, would be to put money and support into foundation and key stage 1 where it would have enormous rewards.

I have long suspected that the decision-makers in the Department for Education and Skills still believe that real school begins at 11, whereas teachers and real educationists know that it starts very much lower down.

Tony Roberts 144 Cop Lane Penwortham, Preston

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