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New Powers to Discipline

Part of the series Need to Know Updates

  Screen capture from New Powers to Discipline


Mike Baker delves into the sensitive issue of discipline in schools, currently a hot topic after the coalition government promised to give teachers extra powers to ensure good behaviour.

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Mike considers the government's proposals and asks whether they are a necessary response to growing problems or a vote-winning strategy.

He visits Bishop Challoner Catholic School, London, to talk to staff and students about new powers of search, clearer guidance on the use of physical restraint, instant detentions and anonymity for teachers facing allegations.

Mike also solicits the views and opinions of Chris Keates, of the NASUWT, John Bangs, of the NUT, and Eleonora Christodoulides of the Advisory Centre for Education.


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Comments (16)

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    • Re : New powers to discipline
      30 July 2010 - 17:31

      Squeezy64's woolly, question-begging response is so typical of the type of thinking that gets teachers nowhere - and to the disciplinarian mess they are in.

      In the film the problem is referred to as a "grey area" and "problematic", If it is then it never used to be. So what has happened?

      Statements like "You need to be clear what you are looking for and why you are looking for those things" is just so much more of the same question-begging and uniformative tosh that gets you no-where.

      And the statement that "Every incident is actually unique" can hardly be the case. But if it is then all the more reason for not trying to classify every possible incident - but of putting the teachers back legally and totally in charge - and back again to the disempowerment of parents within educational establishments.

      There does not need to be any "balance of justice" the power and authority needs to be entirely in the teachers hand and as was always once the case, provided that power is not being misused and abused - which is for legal jurisdiction to decide and not a never ending list of possible scenarios and possible outcomes.

      Here as elsewhere, there seems to be every kind of intellectual diversion employed in order to avoid faceing the issue which teachers and politicians between them have themselves created. Put power back into the teachers hands and we may start getting on with education rather than discipline or that which is so nicety called "behavioural management".

      It is not "new powers to discipline" but the "old" powers that will provide any solution.

    • Re : New powers to discipline
      31 July 2010 - 11:30

      When you say "There does not need to be any "balance of justice" the power and authority needs to be entirely in the teachers hand"

      what do you propose?
      what should the rights of the teacher extend to, and what rights if any is the child entitled to?
      also where does the teacher's authority derive from?
      and how will giving all the power and authority to the teacher prepare children to participate in a society of equals when they leave school? Are you not just asking to breed a generation of half-subordinate half-rebellious adults?

      Very interested in your opinions friend!


    • Re : New powers to discipline
      31 July 2010 - 11:53

      Quote: "where does the teacher's authority derive from?"
      That's a moot point.
      All I know is that in S.E.Asian society, where I was a guest for over 10 years, the very fact of being a teacher automatically earns you the highest respect that society can bestow. Students come to class eager - even desperate - to learn. They don't consider issues such as "rights" for anyone: to them, it's perfectly clear what is supposed to happen in an educational environment, and I never had any behaviour or discipline problems with any of my students during all that time.
      I am delighted that so many of my former students from Burma are still in touch via email, and sometimes Facebook, and very humbled when they express their sincere gratitude for what I was able to help them to learn.
      I have a similar relationship now with private students, one of whom has ADHD but is a most affable young man. In class? No chance.

    • Re : New powers to discipline
      31 July 2010 - 11:57

      @LittleLove - I recall reading Summerhill when I was training - back in the 70s. Perhaps I should revisit it some time.
      I wholeheartedly agree that school needs to be for the benefit of the students, in the same way that hospitals are supposed to be for the benefit of patients, and banks are supposed to be for the benefit of their customers (?!). However, if we get swamped by issues such as "rights" without considering "responsibilities" (the element that seems to have disappeared in our current blame and compensation culture), we will find it all but impossible to turn the tide, in my view.

    • Re : New powers to discipline
      2 August 2010 - 14:03

      Glib buzzwords? I think not being proactive means taking on a human condition whereby we are positive and assertive about our values without the use of a threat of restraint... Friday afternoon and year 9 or not. It is how we set boundaries and maintain them as inevitable consequences for poor behavioural choices throughout a year, day in day out. De escalation techniques are very useful and also express a similar view to be assertive through positive techniques. If secondary schools would stop living in the past and take on the Assertive Discipline Model (Lee Canter) see John Bayley for the number one trainer in this technique and apply it whole school there would be less need for all discussion about discipline. Foe change to take place it is the adults themselves that must embrace a change and stop relying on legislative powers to get the pupils in order for us. We can do, it if we look for the change in our approaches.

    • Re : New powers to discipline
      8 August 2010 - 18:59

      Alas Sunflower you could not be more wrong...on every count!

      You can restrain pupils if you like and rule with an iron fist, but being a 'disciplinarian' is not for me I'm afraid!

      You'll learn eventually that neither shouting, not smiling till Christmas or giving detentions work...I did!

      Good behaviour has to be taught and what you model is what you'll get! Teaching is all about relationships and creating an emotionally healthy climate!

      Feel good, learn good (pupils)...feel good, teach good (teachers)! It works for me! Don't knock it till you've tried it!

    • Re : New Powers To Discipline
      31 July 2010 - 11:36

      I recommend the work of Adelle Faber and Elaine Mazlish, "How to talk so kids can listen and learn" may be a good bet, recommending the teachers grab a copy may be less costly than training but it does require a lot of maturity on the part of teachers who need to be willing to use their personality more and position of authority less when dealing with children, I believe the results will be a much happier environment in school and less "boredom" (which seems to be epidemic) on both the part of students and teachers!

      much love

    • Re : New Powers to Discipline
      2 August 2010 - 14:13

      Supply teaching is the area of teaching that tells the truth about whole school ethos. If a school offers appropriate induction for supply teachers regarding the expectations, rules and routines for the classes they will come in contact with over a day/week/term; and offer assertive, meaningful support and backup to supply teachers then the school will continue to run as 'smoothly' as OFSTED and SMT allude to it running.

      Supply teachers are not poor substitutes they are the means for a school to maintain seamless learning and should be valued with appropriate induction processes and additional skills training where appropriate.