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Charity voices concern over Government's 'get tough' approach to school discipline

CHILDREN'S CHARITY Barnardo’s has voiced concern that the Government’s new approach to classroom discipline risks failing to address bad behaviour effectively in the long term.

In a report launched today (September 2) - 'Tough Love not Get Tough: responsive approaches to improving behaviour in schools' - Barnardo's argues that the new discipline guidelines effective from this September are too simplistic and may even risk making discipline problems worse.

The charity claims that a crackdown only on the symptoms of children’s bad behaviour fails to address the root causes, which all too often lie in a difficult home life and poor parenting.

The Government is also legislating to introduce further measures which may raise welfare issues. For example, a male teacher would be allowed to search a female pupil without a female member of staff being present.

Tough Love not Get Tough reviews international research and shows that schools which combine high expectations for discipline with good support systems have the best outcomes. This is confirmed by Barnardo’s analysis of Ofsted inspections which shows that the most successful schools exhibit good ‘effective care, support and guidance’, and see behaviour management as a key component of successful education.

Barnardo's Chief Executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

“Poor discipline spoils everyone’s education, but cracking down on bad behaviour means addressing issues at home with parents as well as in the classroom with teachers.

“Our research shows that intervening with families to tackle bad behaviour is more effective than authoritarian punishments alone. By effectively supporting parents in partnership with schools, Barnardo’s services have demonstrated improvements in both parenting and children’s attendance and behaviour.

“The best approaches to discipline help children and young people learn to manage their own behaviour, to the benefit of everyone in the school. Some of the proposed new measures may be counterproductive and disproportionate, such as using force to search a child, or erasing data from mobile phones.

“We must remember that the whole purpose of disciplining a child should be to get them to a point where they are able to sit in a classroom and learn”.

For this reason, Barnardo's is calling on the Government to delete some of the more extreme new hard line discipline powers from the Education Bill. Barnardo’s are also urging Ofsted not to drop the judgement about schools’ effectiveness at ‘care, support and guidance’ from its inspections.