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'Throw book' at young rioters, urges 'hero' head

Headteacher Sir Michael Wilshaw, hailed a "hero" by education secretary Michael Gove, has urged the Government to "throw the book" at young people involved in the riots.

The head of Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, described the riots as "outrageous" and the act of "sheer criminals".

"The Government should throw the book at them," he said. "Show them they mean business. There are no excuses for this."

Mossbourne Academy is close to the Pembury estate, scene of some of the worst rioting early last week.

Sir Michael, who has developed a reputation as a strict disciplinarian, said he had "no idea" if any of his pupils were involved in the riots, but added that he "desperately hoped not".

He said any pupils involved in the riots would be severely punished.

Sir Michael, a London headteacher for over 25 years, told The TES that schools had a part to play in ensuring children are disciplined.

"Schools have got to make sure they educate children well and give them the skills and education that makes them see a future for themselves. If children feel there is a future for them then they won't riot," he said.

"In part of our society, families are dysfunctional, fathers are absent and there's no role model. Schools have assumed the parental role. It's the school that does the parenting and gives the values that they should have."

Schools commissioner Dr Elizabeth Sidwell agreed schools had a role to play, but insisted they should not be "blamed" for what had happened.

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