Respect! Good manners to be taught in schools

::: Classes to combat rudeness and anti-social behaviour<br/> ::: Children to be given lessons in 'emotional intelligence'
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Indy Politics

Children in secondary schools are to be taught "emotional intelligence" as part of the national curriculum in an attempt to combat a growing tide of rudeness, violence and lack of respect.

With the debate about the lack of civility among young people reaching a new pitch, ministers are planning to roll out "social and emotional" intelligence classes to help children to cope with anger and frustration without resorting to violence or swearing.

The programme will be integrated into the curriculum, and will teach pupils about fair play and dealing with adversity.

The new moves to instil good manners in young people is the latest attempt to deal with what many politicians and commentators bemoan as a blight on British society, making streets, schools and communities unsafe and unpleasant. The worry is that children no longer have the authority figures to look up to and that the state has to an extent take on the responsibilities that belong to parents.

From September secondary school children will learn basic values and "golden rules" such as: "We are gentle, we are kind, we work hard, we look after property, we listen to people, we are honest, we do not hurt anybody."

Jim Knight, the schools minister, is to announce the plans to introduce the Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning Classes (Seal) in secondary schools after pilots found that it had a dramatic effect on improving behaviour in primary schools, including on attendance records and marks.

The policy is likely to provoke accusations that this is the latest example of the nanny state, and that the Government should leave it to parents to drum into their children moral values.

Nick Gibb, the shadow schools minister, said he feared the programme would dilute academic teaching. "This kind of stuff is ghastly. Schools have really got to focus on the core subjects of academic education and teaching children how to learn," he said.

Teachers who took part in the scheme in primary schools found there was a calmer atmosphere in the classroom, a significant reduction in truancy and fewer bullying incidents throughout the school. Difficult children who were frequently disciplined for swearing and abuse discovered their behaviour improved and found it easier to integrate with their peers.

In Plymouth, a primary school where the scheme was piloted found there were no serious behaviour incidents after a year of introducing the programme.

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