Tory bid to strengthen exclusion by heads

28th January 2005 at 00:00
A bid to give headteachers automatic powers of permanent exclusion is being spearheaded by the Tories' education spokesman, Lord James Douglas-Hamilton.

After convening a seminar on discipline last week - attended by representatives of the teaching unions NASUWT and SSTA, the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, the Scottish School Board Association, and the Scottish Parent Teacher Council - Lord James has called on Peter Peacock, the education minister, to adopt several proposals.

The main recommendations from the meeting - although not endorsed by the SPTC - were:

* rules on permanent exclusion should be strengthened by devolving more power to headteachers;

* the teaching unions in particular backed a national code of conduct to establish basic standards for behaviour in schools (the SPTC opposed this move);

* where teachers are accused of improper conduct by pupils, their anonymity should be preserved until the case has been proven.

A spokesman for the Scottish Executive said its exclusion guidance made clear that local authorities could devolve the power of permanent exclusion to heads.

He added: "Most schools already have some kind of behaviour contract with their pupils. It is far better for pupils and staff to agree these locally, based on the individual circumstances of each school, than to impose a meaningless national code of conduct."

Judith Gillespie, development manager of the SPTC, said that research by Professor Pamela Munn, of Edinburgh university, had identified a change in teachers' attitudes to indiscipline.

She called for schools to be more open-minded in their dealings with parents, adding that she was "fed up with parents being blamed for everything that goes wrong".

She said: "The truth of the matter is that some teachers are less than perfect."

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