There should be zero tolerance for lame populism

Share
Related Topics

There is no simple answer to the question of how schools should deal with disruptive pupils. In some instances, it is simply impossible to avoid excluding a pupil. In others, an accommodation can be reached.

There is no simple answer to the question of how schools should deal with disruptive pupils. In some instances, it is simply impossible to avoid excluding a pupil. In others, an accommodation can be reached. Much depends on the nature of the school. It is clear, however, that exclusion is still used too frequently because of pressure on schools exerted by the Department for Education's league tables - yet another unwelcome by-product of the Government's obsession with targets and tables.

It is also clear that politicians offering "tough rhetoric" and easy solutions to the problem of discipline in schools, particularly in the run-up to a general election, should be treated with immense suspicion. Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, strayed into this category yesterday.

The proposals she outlined to shore up discipline were sensible enough. It is right that Ofsted inspectors should pay particular attention to the effectiveness of schools in dealing with badly behaved pupils. One child can seriously disrupt the education of a whole classroom. It seems reasonable, too, to take particularly disruptive pupils out of certain lessons, but, if possible, not to expel them. That leaves the door open to rehabilitation.

These plans are much more attractive than the Conservatives' proposals to give head teachers complete control over exclusions and to abolish the independent appeals process. This would result in an explosion in the number of pupils outside the mainstream education sector. While the Government's pupil referral units, for children with severe behavioural problems, have improved in recent years, flooding them with thousands more children in a short space of time, as the Tories propose, would be folly.

Where the Education Secretary let herself down was in talking of a "zero tolerance approach" - an attempt, no doubt, to sound just as hard-line as the Tories on this issue. This tired populism may win the Government some favourable headlines, but it is a distinctly unhelpful way to talk about the education of children. One thing is certin: discipline will not be established in Britain's classrooms by cheap electioneering. Pull your socks up, Ms Kelly.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Read Next
RIP Voicemail?  

Voicemail has got me out of some tight corners, so let's not abandon it

Simon Kelner
A sculpture illustrating the WW1 Christmas Truce football match in Liverpool  

It's been 100 years since the Christmas Truce, but football is still changing the world

Jim Murphy and Dan Jarvis
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there