Schools tsar warns Blair against 'demonising' pupils

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In an interview with The Independent's education supplement, Sir Alan Steer - who has been described as the Government's discipline "tsar" - says he does not want to become known as a "Mr Softie" but it would be wrong to "demonise" children.

His warning came after it emerged that Downing Street was studying further measures to combat antisocial behaviour - including "baby Asbos" for children under 10 and forcing hardcore antisocial neighbours to live in "sin-bin'' units guarded by security staff and monitored by CCTV.

Sir Alan, headteacher of Seven Kings High School in Redbridge, east London, a 1,350-pupil comprehensive, is expected to publish his report within the next fortnight. He was asked by Mr Blair to look in particular at whether parents of suspended children should be compelled to spend more time at home with them.

"There is nothing wrong with being tough but you need to be intelligent with it and have a bit of love thrown in with it, too," he says. "I don't want to come across as a 'Mr Softie' but you shouldn't demonise the kids either. This obsession with being tough isn't going to work on its own."

Sir Alan says he believes high teaching standards and respect for pupils will encourage reciprocal respect in children.