Letter: Price of failure to back teachers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Like many teachers, I would agree with much of Victoria Bensted's letter (4 April) regarding classroom discipline. Too often it is the quiet majority in the classroom who suffer from the disruptive actions of a minority.

An article in the same issue of The Independent ("School told to take back pupil with gun") shows very clearly how even the most determined school management can be sabotaged by outside influence.

The changes in schools introduced by the present government, and apparently endorsed by Labour, especially those giving more power to parents and encouraging competition between schools, have limited the freedom of action of both teachers and school managements. This would be bad enough, but by constantly denigrating schools and teachers, as the Conservatives did for much of the 1980s and 1990s, a "double whammy" was delivered to those trying to maintain discipline in the classroom. The costs of that short- sighted policy are now visible.

However there are no "quick fix" solutions to an age-old problem - even Mr Chips found discipline a problem at the start of his career.

GILES M D FALCONER

Deal, Kent

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