pound;30m for good discipline

20th December 2002 at 00:00
The Scottish Executive confirmed this week that it will fund school discipline strategies with pound;10 million a year over three years. But the cash will not start to be paid out until April next year.

The pound;30m package was heralded in the Executive's spending review in September and followed criticism of the pound;10m one-off payment announced in August, intended to support some of the initiatives in the discipline task group's report.

The pound;10m unveiled in August was to provide additional auxiliary staff to supervise pupils between lessons and at lunchbreaks and for home-school link workers to support truanting or excluded pupils. Sums ranged from pound;1m for Glasgow to pound;50,000 for Orkney, and the distribution of the latest funds is expected to be on a similar basis.

The Executive had also ploughed in earlier sums of pound;10m to expand pupil support for children who have to be removed from the classroom and pound;3m to help authorities review their discipline policies.

The latest allocation of cash is intended to answer critics who claimed Ministers were willing the end of a long-term strategy but providing only short-term means. But even pound;30m will not stretch far when divided among Scotland's 3,000 primary, secondary and special schools - just over pound;3,000 a year.

This point has been underlined by the Headteachers' Association of Scotland. George Ross, its secretary, welcomed the additional money but added: "This will not go terribly far in addressing the problems if we are talking about putting in additional personnel, which is a very expensive option. So we've got to be very careful about how we spend the money to make the best use of it."

Cathy Jamieson, the Education Minister who made the announcement during a visit to St Conval's Primary in Glasgow's Pollokshaws on Monday, pledged that education authorities would have flexibility in their use of the funds. "It will be for individual authorities and individual headteachers to decide how best to use it to meet local needs," she said.

St Conval's Primary was chosen for the announcement after a positive HMI report which praised its high expectations of pupils' behaviour, school ethos and pastoral care.

The Conservatives said in response they would set up separate learning centres for disruptive pupils. The SNP said the Executive should be tackling poverty which was the root cause of indiscipline.

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