New laws will strengthen powers to deal with violent and disruptive pupils. Clare Dean reports
PARENTS will be forced to make their children behave and schools given greater powers to permanently exclude violent and disruptive pupils under new laws announced by the Government this week.
Education Secretary Estelle Morris pledged more support for schools in the face of increasing numbers of attacks on staff and pupils by violent, intimidating and abusive parents.
She plans to extend court-imposed Parenting Orders, which require parents to bring up children in ways that minimise anti-social behaviour. New orders may force parents to ensure their child attends school or a homework club, avoids certain areas, is at home at night or attends anger management courses.
Just a week ago, headteacher Sylvia Moore told The TES how she was attacked and held hostage by a couple after a row over their daughter's nose stud. She called for children to be excluded if their parents abused or attacked their teachers.
Ms Morris said schools needed more support but stressed: "I am clear, however, that the innocent child should not be excluded for the misbehaviour of the parent."
She confirmed that there will be no fresh target to cut the number of permanent exclusions further, following an 18 per cent drop in 1999-2000 to an estimated 8,600. The target for 2002 is 8,400.
The forthcoming education Bill will make the impact of bad behaviour on other pupils and staff a more prominent factor in deciding appeals. In future, appeals panels must balance the interests of the excluded pupil against those of other members of the school.
There will be mandatory admissions forums comprising councils, foundation and voluntary-aided schools. They will advise on co-ordinated arrangements locally, including the reintegration of excluded pupils.
STEPS TO BETTER BEHAVIOUR
FOUR goals to improve pupil behaviour will feature in the forthcoming White Paper on secondary schools:
* Early intervention to promote good behaviour and help young children with the basics of concentration and co-operation
* Good training for teachers, support assistants and other staff in managing behaviour
* Encouraging parents to take responsibility for their children's behaviour * More co-operation between school and other services, including the health service