Teachers to get new powers over troublemakers

Teachers will be handed tough powers to search pupils for alcohol, drugs and mobile phones in a Government crackdown on bad behaviour, it was announced today.

Rules allowing schools to use physical force to remove unruly students from the classroom are also set to be simplified, while teachers facing accusations from pupils will be granted anonymity to prevent careers being ruined by "malicious" claims.

The raft of measures, which have won support from the teaching profession, were unveiled by Schools Minister Nick Gibb today in an effort to restore discipline to the classroom.

Official figures show 2,230 pupils were permanently excluded last year for physical assaults on teachers or fellow pupils and tens of thousands more suspended.

One in five secondary schools is rated "satisfactory" or worse by Ofsted for behaviour and two in five teachers have witnessed physical aggression - a quarter of them being the victims of it.

Mr Gibb said: "Heads and teachers know best how to improve behaviour but are too often constrained by regulations which inhibit them from maintaining control of the classroom. Today we are removing red tape so that teachers can ensure discipline in the classroom and promote good behaviour.

"Teachers should feel confident in exercising their authority, and pupils should not have to suffer disruption to their learning caused by the poor behaviour of others."

Today's measures include:

:: Beefed-up powers, introduced from September, for teachers to search pupils for alcohol, drugs and stolen property, as well as mobile phones, MP3 players, cameras, pornography, fireworks, cigarettes and so-called "legal highs".

Further legislation allowing teachers to search for any item that could cause disorder will be introduced later.

Under present rules, headteachers and other authorised staff can only force pupils to be searched if they suspect them of carrying weapons.

The previous government had planned to allow them to check for alcohol and drugs, but the legislation did not go through before the election.

:: Courts will be told to heed clearer guidance that physical force can be used to remove youngsters from classrooms or restrain troublemakers. Simplified guidance on the use of force will be published.

:: An end to a ban on same-day detentions - under current law schools must give parents 24 hours notice in writing.

:: Reporting restrictions placed on allegations made about teachers, granting them anonymity.

Mr Gibb said: "Ministers wish to put an end to rumours and malicious gossip about innocent teachers which can ruin careers and even lives."

A survey published by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) earlier this year found that teachers believe behaviour in schools is worse than it was five years ago, with pupils as young as five being disrespectful, intimidating and violent.

In April, science teacher Peter Harvey was cleared of attempted murder after hitting a 14-year-old boy around the head with a dumbbell after being goaded by the student while a friend filmed the heated exchanges on a hand-held camcorder.

Mr Harvey had been trying to teach a lesson at All Saints' Roman Catholic School in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, when the class descended into "uproar".

He received support from the teaching profession, which raised concerns about behaviour in the classroom.

Unions called for tougher measures to clamp down on the use of mobile technology in lessons, and for consistent behaviour policies.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said today: "There are rare occasions when young people may be carrying and concealing dangerous materials.

"In those situations, teachers have to make a judgment call on the spot. In doing so, they should not be subject to the potential for accusations that they are acting illegally because the items that they are searching for fall outside the range permitted by law.

"The current legislation makes an invidious distinction between alcohol, weapons and drugs and all other items. That does not reflect the reality of the situation teachers sometimes face."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said: "Additional measures to support teachers in continuing to maintain high standards of pupil behaviour are always welcome.

"Over the last decade a raft of measures were introduced to back the classroom teacher and today's announcements largely build on these.

"However, all of these measures become meaningless if schools fail to incorporate them into their behaviour policies.

"The Secretary of State clearly feels these measures are necessary but it is the school management who decide whether they will be introduced.

"This tension between national policy and local implementation all too often deprives teachers of access to provisions they need to enable them to work effectively."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
music
Sport
Dave Mackay lifts the FA Cup in 1967 having skippered Spurs to victory
football
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
Jihadi John
newsMonikers like 'Jihadi John' make the grim sound glamorous
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn