Schools 'feel let down on discipline'

26th September 2003 at 01:00
Teacher representatives were told this week of "a huge disappointment" in the outcome of the Scottish Executive's drive towards improving discipline in schools.

The General Teaching Council for Scotland, at one of its regular meetings in Edinburgh, heard from May Ferries, a former president of the Educational Institute of Scotland, that schools had yet to see the effects of the recommendations from the Better Behaviour, Better Learning task force - despitepound;10 million a year from the Executive to implement them.

The council's debate coincided with the latest initiative from Peter Peacock, Education Minister, who has put discipline at the top of his agenda. Mr Peacock has already announced discipline masterclasses for headteachers and working groups to improve behaviour.

On Wednesday, he told the Scottish Parliament that he has asked officials to look into the possible introduction of restorative justice schemes in schools to make disruptive pupils face up to the consequences of their actions.

Some English authorities are already developing schemes and Mr Peacock said the idea was "to strengthen our support for the victims of unruly pupils, teachers and other young people, while preventing further disruptive behaviour".

North Lanarkshire is considering piloting a similar approach.

Mr Peacock confirmed in his parliamentary statement that the next step would be new guidance on school exclusions which will confirm the assurance he gave to The TES Scotland in his first ministerial interview that final decisions on exclusion should be left to headteachers. The target that schools should aim to reduce exclusions by a third will be dropped.

But Ms Ferries, depute head of a Glasgow primary, said the Executive had to recognise that the problems are more deep-seated. "It is not politically correct to say that inclusion is causing problems - but it is."

Ms Ferries characterised the Executive's approaches to disciplinary issues, including its policies on curbing antisocial behaviour among the young, as "tagged by night, in school by day".

Fiona Hyslop, the SNP's shadow education minister, told MSPs in their debate that attitudes to discipline had focused too much on policy development and not on the classroom.

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