Ministers go to war on class pranksters

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The Independent Online

Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, will declare war on classroom pranksters and persistent attention-seekers in a speech on school discipline on Tuesday. She will urge schools to show "zero tolerance" even towards low-level classroom disruption in a speech to a north of England education conference.

Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, will declare war on classroom pranksters and persistent attention-seekers in a speech on school discipline on Tuesday. She will urge schools to show "zero tolerance" even towards low-level classroom disruption in a speech to a north of England education conference.

Her targets will include pupils who constantly interrupt lessons, play class-room pranks and answer back.

It comes a day before the chief schools inspector, David Bell, the head of the education standards watchdog, Ofsted, is due to warn in an annual report that constant low-level classroom disruption has become a major problem.

Ms Kelly will urge schools and local education authorities to liaise over alternative provision for troublesome pupils - including on-site special units for those who disrupt lessons.

Teachers will be told that they must do their utmost to tackle the problem, rather than turn a blind eye because it is not as serious as the more violent behaviour that afflicts some schools.

"There has been progress in tackling bad behaviour - exclusions are down 25 per cent since 1997," said a senior aide. "But parents have a right to have their child taught in a classroom free from all forms of disruption.

"It is these other forms of bad behaviour that gets in the way of children learning. A minority of pupils can prevent teachers from teaching and pupils from learning."

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