Labour's tactics for penalty area

5th April 1996 at 01:00
Violence and disipline are high on the agenda at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference.

Labour's plans to extend the discipline of the football field to the classroom have been broadly welcomed.

Speaking to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' annual conference this week, shadow education spokesman David Blunkett announced several measures to improve discipline and tackle rising truancy and exclusions.

His mention of the use by one Newcastle primary of yellow and red cards in response to pupils' first and subsequent misdemeanours - and the suggestion that Labour would investigate such graded discipline systems - attracted most publicity.

Of more interest to most schools were Labour's intentions for amending the current policy on exclusions to create a new punishment falling between the current options of removing a child from school either for 15 days or permanently.

Mr Blunkett said the party is examining the option of allowing schools to send problem pupils to pupil referral units for one term, so behaviour problems could be addressed outside school without any adverse effect on studies. Parents would have to sign a contract of work at home.

"In this way we can avoid a situation where many children are passed from school to school, with some schools excluding children and boosting their own behaviour record and league table position at the expense of those schools prepared to take children that have been permanently excluded," said Mr Blunkett.

The third part of Labour's approach would be to ensure that PRUs became more effective. Every child should be the subject of an individual development plan with the objective of a return to mainstream education. Mr Blunkett said the party was examining ways of boosting tuition in PRUs, including the possibility of seconding teachers on a part-time basis from local schools.

While the teacher unions broadly welcomed his plans to improve discipline, the Association of Chief Police Officers expressed concerns about the shortage of places in PRUs. A spokesman said there were fears that excluded pupils would be left without a place, and might become involved in crime.

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