Teachers encouraged to use traditional punishments

Published on Monday, 03 February 2014 11:53
Written by Daniel Mason

Teachers are being encouraged to enforce discipline in classrooms by using traditional punishments – such as writing lines, picking up litter and running around the school field – under new guidance published by the Department for Education.

Cleaning the dining room after lunch, weekend detentions and removing graffiti are also among the sanctions promoted by education secretary Michael Gove.

According to the advice, published today and sent to all schools in England, "a clear school behaviour policy, consistently and fairly applied, underpins effective education".

It adds: "Schools should have in place a range of options and rewards to reinforce and praise good behaviour, and clear sanctions for those who do not comply with the school's behaviour policy."

Appropriate punishments cited by the document include repeating unsatisfactory work, weeding the school grounds and not being allowed to take part in non-uniform days.

The department said previous guidelines had stopped short of outlining potential sanctions and left head teachers and school staff unclear of what action they were able to take within legal and health and safety rules.

But Labour's shadow education secretary, Tristram Hunt, claimed the government had "dropped the ball" on school discipline by "allowing unqualified teachers into our classrooms".

"This has damaged school standards, with ill-discipline blighting learning for hundreds of pupils across the country," he said.

Meanwhile the row over Gove's decision not to reappoint Labour-supporting Sally Morgan as chair of Ofsted has continued, after the education secretary was accused by opponents of attempting to politicise the schools inspectorate.

Michael Dugher, Labour's shadow cabinet office minister, today wrote to the cabinet secretary, Sir Jeremy Heywood, claiming there was "no logical reason for Baroness Morgan's sacking".

He said there was an "emerging pattern of behaviour in Whitehall with non-Conservative supporters being replaced by prominent Conservatives, including major donors, to powerful public sector roles to support the government's political agenda".

Liberal Democrat schools minister David Laws was reportedly "furious" about Gove's decision, opening a rift between the coalition partners.

The education secretary has denied any political motivations, instead praising Morgan and insisting it was simply "good corporate practice" to "refresh" key public posts every three or four years.

But Lib Dem MP David Ward, speaking to the BBC this morning, said: "In an ever-changing system, we need that continuity. If you really want to refresh the system, maybe we need to think about getting a new secretary of state for education."

And Sir David Bell, a former chief inspector at Ofsted, in an article for The Conversation, warned Gove not to surround himself with "yes men" or to "believe his own hype".

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