'Cooling off' units aid school discipline

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Hundreds of secondary schools will start using new "cooler" units in the new year in an attempt to crack down on discipline in the classroom.

They will be separate classrooms where unruly youngsters can be sent for up to two days to "cool off" after misbehaving in school.

Ministers believe they will be useful in dealing with cases of constant low-level disruption in the classroom by giving teachers a disciplinary remedy which stops short of excluding pupils and sending them home, but allows them to tackle the problem and avoid further disruption in the classroom.

Under the Government's plans, schools are being encouraged to join forces to set up joint "cooler" units.

As a result of negotiations, they will be available to 389 schools from the beginning of January. The schools are in 39 partnerships across the country - mostly in areas where there is a higher than average discipline problem.

If January's pilot is successful, they are likely to be opened across the country.

Meanwhile, ministers have unveiled plans to give teachers a legal right to discipline pupils for the first time. A consultation document will make it clear that the right should extend to classroom assistants and other school employees as well. This is in recognition of the fact that an increasing number of classes are being taken by teaching assistants to give teachers 10 per cent of their time off from the classroom for marking and preparation.