School discipline task force to look at 'cooler rooms'

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The Independent Online

A task force on school discipline has been set up to recommend a code of behaviour for the country's seven million state school children.

A task force on school discipline has been set up to recommend a code of behaviour for the country's seven million state school children.

The group is charged with coming up with recommendations by October aimed at re-establishing a culture of respect in schools and curbing unruly behaviour. One idea which could be considered is the setting up of "cooler rooms" in schools - to which unruly pupils are sent to cool off, the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly, told the BBC Radio 4 'Today' programme yesterday.

The disciplinary scheme is being pioneered by Sir Dexter Hutt, executive head of three inner-city Birmingham schools - where pupils are kept in isolation for up to three days with meals delivered and lavatory breaks.

They are made to fill in worksheets under the watchful eye of school staff. According to Sir Dexter, many miss the classroom as a result - and want to get back and behave.

''It certainly seems to work in his schools and there are other programmes that work in different schools,'' the Education Secretary said.

She added: "If this group can come up with three or four programmes that clearly work then I think that would be a very valuable contributions."

Other key decisions the group, headed by Sir Alan Steer, headteacher of Seven Kings High School in Ilford, east London - a school praised by inspectors for its exceptional discipline, will have to make include:

* Whether headteachers should be given more powers to tackle unruly behaviour.

* How parents can be persuaded to take more responsibility for their children's behaviour in school;

* Whether more time needs to be spent in teacher training and professional development for serving staff on dealing with techniques to control children's behaviour;

* How schools can best make use of the good practice that takes place in the best ordered lessons.

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