Top head says 'no' to zero tolerance

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The Independent Online

One of the country's most successful head teachers is calling for the Government to stop talk of a "zero- tolerance" approach to school discipline.

One of the country's most successful head teachers is calling for the Government to stop talk of a "zero- tolerance" approach to school discipline.

Lady Marie Stubbs, who came out of retirement to turn around St George's School in Westminster - where the head teacher Philip Lawrence was murdered - will argue in a public lecture tonight that the country's best teachers should be lured to work in its toughest schools with higher salaries instead.

Lady Stubbs told The Independent yesterday that "zero-tolerance" was "a tired old term", adding: "I'd rather see it tucked away."

The best alternative approaches would be better pay in tough schools, better pupil/teacher ratios and the paying of more respect to the views of children.

"You need the best teachers in the state and the independent sector, she said, with "a nice staff room and decent food".

Lady Stubbs said she was sceptical about the Government's decision to set up a task force to tackle school discipline. "I think we know enough about what makes a good school work," she said. "Ninety per cent know about discipline.

"What we need for the other 10 per cent is to pay teachers more to work in them and give them better staffing levels. Staffing levels should be different in schools with discipline problems. "At St George's we had plenty of advisers and counsellors to help the teachers."

However, Lady Stubbs will advise tonight's audience at a a public lecture on urban education at the University of East Anglia that "head teachers must be their own gurus". "It is no use them trying to be me," she said. "They must be confident in themselves about what they are trying to do."

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