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Tory faithful call for tough code on discipline

Pupils sitting in rows facing their teacher, more formal examinations in the first three secondary years, school uniform and cuts in child benefit were among the suggestions for improving behaviour at the Tory party's annual Scottish conference in Aberdeen.

Gordon Lind, chairman of the Society of Scottish Conservative Teachers, said that the "current nonsense" of pupils facing away from the teacher or sitting sideways was one of the main reasons lessons were disrupted.

Mr Lind, principal guidance teacher at Hamilton Grammar, went on to argue for more experience of formal examinations for younger secondary pupils. "Examinations themselves teach discipline," he said, adding that many fourth-year pupils were completely unprepared for the silent conditions of the exam hall.

More dramatic medicine from Mr Lind's disciplinary bottle took the form of a freeze on child benefit for an agreed period. This would be triggered by a nationally agreed system of penalty points for "foul-mouthed louts".

Mark Isaac, Clydesdale, commented: "It's a big step but it's a big problem. "

Mr Lind also urged Raymond Robertson, the Education Minister, to consider electronic registration and transferring non-academic pupils to further education colleges for their fourth year of secondary education. But Mr Robertson notably failed to refer to disciplinary issues in his wind-up speech and preferred to concentrate on "the themes at the heart of everything we do in education: quality, choice and diversity".

Apart from his headline-grabbing announcement of compulsory testing in the first two years of secondary school, the minister's speech consisted largely of an attack on his opponents. He reserved particular scorn for the policy document produced by Helen Liddell, Labour's spokeswoman on education. Mr Robertson described Every Child is Special: A Compact for Scotland's Future as "pretentious" and added: "The universal indifference which greeted it demonstrated how little powder there was in the lady's compact."

The conference passed a resolution welcoming nursery vouchers, calling for an extension of devolved school management, and condemning "the hypocrisy of the Labour party's education policies".

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