Ministers target schools in crackdown on yob culture

4th July 2003 at 01:00
SCHOOLS will be drawn into the Scottish Executive's contentious attempts to crack down on antisocial behaviour.

While they are not central to the package launched last week by Margaret Curran, Minister for Communities, the extension to under-16s of a raft of new initiatives will inevitably impact on some pupils - and on guidance teachers at a time when the service is going through an upheaval following the disappearance of assistant principal teacher and assistant head posts.

Ministers are to introduce or extend the use of acceptable behaviour contracts, antisocial behaviour orders, parenting orders and restriction of liberty orders through electronic tagging. Some of these orders are set to be extended to under-16s for the first time - from the age of 12 in the case of antisocial behaviour orders, for example, and 10-year-olds if the use of tagging follows practice in England.

Ms Curran said the Executive was determined "to turn the tide on antisocial behaviour".

The consultation document, Putting Our Communities First, also notes the potential for overlap between the new proposals and existing powers. A parenting order to force a pupil to attend or behave at school would have to co-exist with attendance orders under the 1980 Education Act, for example. Contracts setting out what is acceptable behaviour are also intended to tackle truancy and problems in schools.

Parenting orders go much further into family life than current legislation, however. They could require parents to ensure children undergo mentoring, attend a literacy or homework club, avoid contact with disruptive influences and take part in programmes on anger management or drug misuse.

The Executive is also planning to tighten arrangements for ensuring that children excluded from school receive an education. The document notes that some young people who appear before children's panels are having no education at all. It suggests that if a hearing finds this to be the case, it should instruct the panel reporter to raise the matter with the education authority.

The SNP welcomed the plans but said their implementation must be monitored to ensure they did not fail. The Tories also embraced "moves in the right direction".

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities issued its own welcome, but stressed the importance of "innovative youth work programmes that seek to address problem behaviour".

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