CBI head backs tough school discipline

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Adair Turner, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, yesterday suggested that Army-style discipline could help restore order in some of Britain's schools.

Mr Turner also said that some of the problems which were now afflicting parts of the education system could be eased if pupils were encouraged to wear uniforms.

Stressing that his were personal views and not those of the CBI, Mr Turner said his gut feeling was that a discipline problem did exist which was affecting morale and educational standards.

"I do think that there are fundamental issues about our approach to discipline. How, for instance, do you ensure discipline among adolescent boys who are bigger than their teachers, who are not particularly afraid of their teachers and not afraid to do what they like?

"The answer is that the social aspects of discipline are built up in an incredibly subtle way from very early in life. Broadly speaking, if you enforce discipline on very small things early in life you inculcate the habit.

"It's how armies work. You bawl someone out for not having their shoes shined and they end up being willing to obey orders even when it is life- threatening."

Speaking in advance of the CBI's national conference which begins in Harrogate on Sunday, Mr Turner also said that issues such as the wearing of uniforms were "non-trivial" and were important in establishing habits of discipline.

On the economy, Mr Turner said the Chancellor's scope for Budget tax cuts was now "close to nil".

He said the last thing business wanted was a fiscal giveaway balanced by higher interest rates which could then feed through to the exchange rate and harm the competitiveness of Britain's exporters.

Holding the ring in Harrogate, page 27