Positive discipline can set the bar for behaviour standards

1st May 2009 at 01:00

The last issue of The TES clearly identified concerns with bullying in education. Ken Boston seems to have been a victim of dossier politics; heads fear Ofsted surveys of staff will penalise them for poor leadership; and, according to the NUT, two-fifths of staff in a survey in Barnsley had been victims of bullying at work. Meanwhile, a survey found that half of teachers were aware of racist bullying in their schools.

In their book The Spirit Level, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett showed that bullying is a feature of the more unequal countries, such as Britain and the United States. Our profession should seek to contribute to resolving the challenges we face as a country, but the sort of society created by Margaret Thatcher and fostered by Tony Blair is sick.

The ideology associated with bullying and the mantras of testing, league tables, blaming, shaming and victimisation that your reports suggest are deeply ingrained in our education system and are as infectious as swine flu. The evidence is clear that to develop a world-class education system we need a world-class society. And that has to be grounded in more income equality.

Andy Bowles, Senior lecturer in education, Leeds Metropolitan University.

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