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The government and the Conservative Party both published new proposals to deal with discipline today. Ruth Kelly said in a radio interview that she was announcing that this admissions policy "need not apply to excluded pupils until schools are confident that they have got the necessary facilities in place to deal with these pupils".

Kelly said the principle would apply only after local partnerships had been formed and had agreed specialist provision to cope with such children. She is giving schools an extra year to begin that process. Her predecessor, Charles Clarke, had wanted every head teacher to have arrangements in place by September.

The Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins, said Ms Kelly's announcement was "a breathtakingly cynical ploy.” He added: “Ministers will still force schools to take disruptive pupils - guaranteeing a thug in every playground - but shamelessly hope to get some credit by postponing this daft and dangerous idea until September 2007."

Collins announced his own five-point plan on discipline:

• scrap independent appeals panels

• give heads the right to require that enforceable home-school contracts are a condition of attendance at their schools

• scrap the idea of schools being forced to take a share of disruptive pupils

• give teachers a guarantee of anonymity until a criminal charge is brought if accused of abuse

• fund more schools for expelled pupils and expand CCTV, random drug-testing and metal detectors.

What do you think is the best way of dealing with disruptive pupils?

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This is a really difficult one. Do you continue to set up more and more alternative units until there are as many as there are "normal" schools, or do you put the money into the mainstream school to deal with the problems in situ?

Here in Tasmania, we probably don't have as many highly violent/disruptive students as the UK, but they are on the increase, both numerically, age-wise, and level of violence. We have absolutely no units for behaviour management of any kind, and under tour newly introduced restructuring into clusters with full responsibility for ALL students placed firmly on to individual schools/clusters, I can see things getting even harder for teachers who have to deal with these kids.

However, our DoE is adamant that they will not set up system-wide units like the UK EBDs and PRUs - if schools want to create an "alternative" setting, they will have to do it at the local level out of local funds. While the rationale for this may be commendable, the reality may eventually be disastrous.

The argument here is that special units of any kind merely contain the problem and don't address it on a long term basis, but while this may be philosophically correct, it means that teachers and decently behaved kids are constantly at the mercy of the thugs.

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Here in Tasmania, we probably don't have as many highly violent/disruptive students as the UK, but they are on the increase, both numerically, age-wise, and level of violence. We have absolutely no units for behaviour management of any kind, and under tour newly introduced restructuring into clusters with full responsibility for ALL students placed firmly on to individual schools/clusters, I can see things getting even harder for teachers who have to deal with these kids.

This is an interesting topic that hopefully teachers from all over the world will post their observations.

Over a 25 year period I saw a gradually decline in the standard of behaviour of the pupils. However, I should point out, it was never as bad as it was when I was a student. That is because I went to a non-grammar school on a large council estate. Very few teachers in my school made any real attempt to teach us and therefore I had to leave school before I could start my education.

My teaching experience has always been in comprehensive schools. In the 1970s and early 1980s this worked well. Of course we got the odd awkward pupil but it was possible to make sure that the individual concerned did not disrupt the education of the rest of the class. In some cases, these students were housed in special units or sent away to special schools.

During the 1980s the growth in the number of disruptive students grew rapidly. The most dangerous aspect of this was the image of the disruptive student changed. They were no longer seen as being deviant. There were too many for that. Instead it was seen as a problem of culture. That these students needed a different type of education. This seemed to be a false analysis of the situation. Working class children were able to cope with traditional schooling in the 1970s. Anyway, this was not really an issue of class. Many, if not most of the disruptive children, came from middle class backgrounds. The one thing they all had in common was that they came from families with problems. In some cases the father had left home. In others, the father had never been around. In other cases, the parents were still together, but clearly not very happy with the situation. In virtually every case, the student was suffering from emotional problems. In every single case, the parents were unable to control the behaviour of the children. Most were unable to support the efforts being made by school to shape the behaviour of their child.

Of course in the 1970s schools were able to use corporal punishment. Therefore, some teachers claim this is the reason for this decline in the standard of pupil behaviour. I completely reject this argument. When I was at school in the 1950s the pupils were hit by teachers on a daily basis. We even had pupils caned on the stage in full view of the whole school. However, it did not have any impact on the behaviour of the pupils.

Anyway, when I was teaching in the 1970s I did not hit students or send them to other teachers to be caned and I did not have the same kinds of problems experienced in the 1990s. I would also add that my disruptive students may not have been hit in the school by teachers, but in most cases they were hit in the home. However, this only seemed to make the matter worse.

I believe the present government has made the situation far worse. The main problem has been with the policy of inclusion. The closing down of special schools has been a disaster. Forcing schools to keep students who are clearly emotionally disturbed has severely damaged the quality of education experienced by their classmates. Not only because this behaviour in itself created disruption, but because that behaviour began to be seen as “normal” by the other students. This had a bad influence on those suffering from their own emotional problems. Disruptive students therefore became a sub-group within the school. Once that happens, the school becomes virtually powerless to deal with the situation.

This development has increased the gap between the quality of education enjoyed in comprehensive schools and selective schools. In selective schools these disruptive sub-groups have never been allowed to develop. This is reflected in the exam results. The publication of league tables just reinforces the advantages enjoyed by selective schools and provides even more information to attack the quality of education being provided in comprehensive/secondary modern schools.

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I, too, would like to hear about how different countries deal with this issue.

Here, the gurus keep telling us that appropriate curriculum/methodology will make a difference - while this is partially true for sem-reasonable students, it certainly appears to make no difference to the hard-core offenders.

I gather that in the Netherlands, the current education review has not moved away from a national test at 12 and consequent streaming of students into three different types of education in different settings. This would be seen as completely unacceptable here, yet the Netherlands is often considered to be a forward thinking country. I wonder what it does with its recalcitrants?

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I noticed 30 people have looked at this thread, bit no one has replied - is it not of any interest to teachers?

I'm sure it is of great interest, Jean, but we teachers probably feel imbued with a sense of sheer helplessness when it comes to addressing the problem of incorrigibly disruptive pupils. I work in special needs education and I'm aware that other issues, such as learning difficulties, can underly poor behaviour. At my own school we even invented a term for it: pastoral drift. This phenomenon occurs when a pupil arrives at the age of 11 at secondary school with known literacy and numeracy problems, proceeds to make very slow progress and vents frustration through misbehaviour. More work needs to be done urgently to find ways of reversing this trend. As a subject teacher, I also find it depressing that there's so little literature about teaching the National Curriculum to pupils with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD). I have looked and written up what I have found in my subject bibliographies at:

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com/Inc...cula/biblio.htm

I wish journals like "Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties" would once in a while publish articles about school subject specific issues instead of just generic research. I wish subject teaching journals would venture once in a while into the problem of SEBD as well as academic issues. Pupils with SEBD can be very bright and achieve great results in academic exams, but neither information nor experience about turning them round is being shared among professionals. The topic remains taboo in many quarters. Multidisciplinary collaboration among professionals is the first step towards solving the problem. I hope this moves the debate forward.

David Wilson

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com

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I'm sure it is of great interest, Jean, but we teachers probably feel imbued with a sense of sheer helplessness when it comes to addressing the problem of incorrigibly disruptive pupils.

http://www.specialeducationalneeds.com

It is probably no coincidence that Jean and myself have left the classroom. Maybe it is a subject that is easier to discuss if you are a former teacher.

It seems to me that there are two main factors causing disruptive behaviour.

(1) Children with emotional problems caused by problems in the home. These problems are often made worse by poor parenting.

(2) Children who believe that school has little to offer them. That the collection of exam certificates that they are likely to end up with will just highlight their poor academic performance. This was the cause of the bad behaviour I experienced when I was at school. The school could not provide a good education. Everybody knew that. We were not able to take exams in the school and so carrots like this could not be dangled in front of us. All the school could do was to provide a place where we could have a good laugh (often at the expense of the teacher). See Paul Willis’s book, Learning How To Labour, for a description of this process.

Problems 1 and 2 are often linked. It seems to me that teachers can do little about Problem 1. It is possible that the government could help in the long-term but there is little sign that this intervention is going to take place.

Problem 2 also cannot be solved. However, some of its worst features could be tackled by a reduction in the emphasis on exam certificates and league tables. It might also be possible to provide a more meaningful experience for those who are currently made to feel as “failures”.

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I am one of the few teachers who doesn't think that standards of behaviour in general terms in schools has significantly declined.

The misbehaviours I see in school are far less imaginative than the ones my generation got up to in the 1970's and 80's, and, do you know what, there were problems of drugs, drink and broken homes in the world even then?! :rolleyes:

At the margins things have got worse. Inclusion has meant that too many deeply emotionally disturbed children are left to sink or swim (usually sink) in mainstream education.

I also believe that the effectiveness of teacher training in the UK has spiralled ever downwards leaving far too many young teachers with too few skills, too little subject knowledge, and too little flexibility of thought to deal with the challenging child or plan interesting and engaging lessons

Parent power has reared its ugly head (and let's face it they don't get much uglier). Too often the school is seen as some sort of service industry where the customer is always right. In past years as a pastoral head of year I have probably spent more time trying to get parents to cooperate with the school than I have with children. A parent that fails to support a school in its work is a moron - a dangerous one at that. Children quickly learn that the consequences of poor behaviour can be deflected by a parental complaint. The results are lethal.

What I do not think has had any bearing on behaviour is the decline of the nuclear family. I think such a view is based on a rather nostalgic view of past years.

I did a survey this morning of my A level Sociology group, 60% lived in single parent families or reconstituted families. The majority are well balanced and appropriately behaved people. Poor parenting is poor parenting regardless of the type of household in takes place in - as is good parenting.

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I am one of the few teachers who doesn't think that standards of behaviour in general terms in schools has significantly declined.

The misbehaviours I see in school are far less imaginative than the ones my generation got up to in the 1970's and 80's, and, do you know what, there were problems of drugs, drink and broken homes in the world even then?!

I agree with Andy: I have been a teacher for the last 25 years and I think the behaviour of pupils has changed but a not necessarily detoriated. But then Germany still has a three-tiered school system and as every PISA study has shown so far pupils with learning difficulties and non-academic/non-middle-class backgrounds and pupils with a different ethnic background do not manage to get into a grammar school. This of course influences the atmosphere in our schools, though we of course also have children with emotional problems and difficult families.

I think a colleague working in a school which has to educate those who have not made it to either a grammar school or secondary modern has different experiences and coping with disruptive students and truancy most certainly are part his lessons.

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I agree with Andy about the parenting, although not with his assessment about numbers and levels of behaviour. Perhaps you need to see it from the outside and from a wide perspective to really see the full picture . The year before last I taught in a 1200 all-girls high school from a good area. In my Yr 7 almost half were from one parent families and all were perfectly normal and well-behaved because on the whole they had educated, sensible and financially OK single parents. It would have been easy to assume that this was so everywhere if I'd not recently been in other scools. However, at the rural high school I taught at before that where there was poverty, unemployment and crime in the community, the parents, in two's, were as Andy describes - as unmanageable as their offspring.

Here we don't have a National Curriculum or League Tables or external exams or much testing and teachers can now do whatever they want to with groups of EBD or SEN kids as long as they can report on the outcomes such as literacy and numeracy etc. Many schools are doing half year units in automotives, fishing, weightlifting, gardening, model cars, and units in life skills, well-being, health etc etc. But it appears to make very little difference. I spoke to one teacher in a difficult schol recently and I said to him: this new curriculum framework must be making it easier for you with your disengaged/challenging students. His reply was that they were just as badly behaved whether they were off fishing, fixing cars or sitting in Maths. So, that may not be the magic cure that everyone seems to think.

I believe that here we have done almost everything that is possible in the way of curriculum offerings, alternative approaches, alternative programs etc, but still the problem kids continue to grow in numbers and level of behaviour. We have a significantly increased number of totally unmanageable children in kinder and the early years who spit, bite, kick, swear, have no understanding of reasonable behaviour and generally behave like wild animals - any of our teachers will tell you that is the case.

I'm afraid I'm pessimistic about changing any of this round until there is a shift in society's values and attitudes.

I also know many teachers who tell me that they would happily forego pay rises in return for helping them cope with challenging behaviour.

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PS Is it possible that in the UK there doesn't appear to be an increase because so many are moved into EBD and PRU units? Here we don't have any and the only ones not in mainstream are those in juvenile detention units having been committed for a serious crime. It's therefore fairly easy to tell whether numbers and levels have increased, and the consensus of our teachers (based on wide surveys) is that it definitely has.

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PS Is it possible that in the UK there doesn't appear to be an increase because so many are moved into EBD and PRU units? Here we don't have any and the only ones not in mainstream are those in juvenile detention units having been committed for a serious crime. It's therefore fairly easy to tell whether numbers and levels have increased, and the consensus of our teachers (based on wide surveys) is that it definitely has.

Possibly but I also do think that there is a general tendency amongst teachers especially to believe that things are worse now than they have ever been. This has been going on for some time!

"The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for

authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place

of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their

households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They

contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties

at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers."

SOCRATES

"What is happening to our young

people? They disrespect their elders, they disobey their parents. They

ignore the law. They riot in the streets inflamed with wild notions.

Their morals are decaying. What is to become of them?"

PLATO

:lol:

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Disruptive students are probably a major issue in all of the more developed countries. The idea of education as a priviledge has dissappeared and now it is considered a right by the students and parents. The lawyers, here in the U.S., have not helped the situation as they are always lurking like vultures ready to swoop in and grab off some of the public money for their own pockets, while using the cry of education and justice for the pupil as their reason.

Because of court rulings in the U.S., the schools have been severly hampered with what they can do as far as punitive measures in regards to disruptive students.

I teach in a public school that is located on a military post. All of the students are the children of active duty military personel. When I started here, 15 years ago, the attitude of the students and the parents was a pro-education stance, and disruptive children were taken care of at home. If that did not happen, then the military stepped in as it took the attitude that the parents were responsible for the action of the student.

That has all changed now with unruley students that show disrespect towards education and educators, and an attitude that they are in charge of the school. It is sadly enough, a trend in schooling, and in order to remain in the teaching profession, one just has to adjust.

There are schools in San Antonio, Texas that have more students in detention hall , or alternative education centers, than they have in their regular classrooms. My wife teaches in such a school and she has to keep the door locked to her classroom, when the students are in it ,to keep the drug dealers out. They have 8 full time police officers that are assigned to that one high school full time.

While the business world asks for better educated students, the motivation of the students and a lot of parents is just the opposite. It is an attitude of something for nothing.

I have no answers, just concerns.

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Jim

Your description certainly seems to indicate that behaviour has got worse in the US. it's very depressing.

I think, when quotations from the past are used as evidence that behaviour has always been perceived as worse by the previous generation, you need to be careful that you are comparing like with like. Yes, children may have been less respectful of their elders in Ancient Greece, but does that mean that they were ceasing to say please and thankyou or does it mean they were verbally and physically abusing their teachers and parents. My peers and I misbehaved at school 45 years ago - I was sent to the Principal regularly for talking in class because 20 years before that, children were seen and not heard. I was threatened with expulsion for accidentally spilling ink on the new order of linen in the cooking room. Now, We cannot get a student even suspended for physically attacking a teacher. A colleague who was punched in the breast by a Yr 6 boy was told that he just needed more love and he was put in another class "where the teacher might have a better understanding of him". Most of us accept that children should have more freedom, more right to express themselves, more right to move round the class, talk to others, interact etc etc, but that's a hell of a long way from constant verbal abuse, spitting, biting, throwing sharp objects, carrying knives and guns. How many students murdered other students up to 10 years ago? How many stuck knives into teachers? How many ruined teachers' careers by making false accusations? How many parents backed their children in the face of all other evidence to the contrary? And what sort of message does all of this deliver to others? That they can get away with it too, and that's exactly what happens. Those on the borderline of behaviour cross it because they know they can.

I don't have any answers either, but I daily see the victims of these children, with ruined health and ruined careers.

A recent report here from the Australian Chamber of Commerce advised schools AND UNIVERSITIES to have glass walls between rooms and for teaching staff to desist from wearing clothes which could be used by students to strangle them. No mention of the perpetrators of the crime - merely the onus on the victim to deflest the criome. What sort of message does this send? I am going before I get too angry.

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Several years ago the U.S. Department of Education decided that all Special Education students should be included into mainline classes as much as possible. Only the most severly mentally handicapped were kept in self contained situations and those that were suffering with emotional problems, ADD, ADHD, and other mental abnormalities were put into regular situations in a program labled "Inclusion".

The punishment that can be administered to these students is severly limited so disruptive behavior is to be tolerated in the classroom. This behavior, of course robs the other students of a good education because the teacher is required to spend their time trying to settle the student and keep the others on task.

I had a senior special education student yesterday, 2-7 that was so disruptive that there was actually no time spent on the subject because of his attention getting antics. This young man is 18 years old, but is protected under U.S. Federal guidelines and there are no punitive proceedures either I or the school can take to handle the situation.

This is part of the problem in the U.S. school system. Please keep in mind. Our federal government has little control over the public school system except for Special Education, which they fund. The states regulate hundreds of Independent School Districts or county school districts through local elected school boards. The local property taxes fund 98% of the schools in the U.S. Because the U.S. Government funding of Special Education is such a windfall to the local districts in money they continue to qualify more and more students in order to receive this large amount of cash. When you receive you must give, so as they receive more and more federal money the more the Department of Education in Washington controls the local district through rules and regulations.

When I started teaching 20 years ago less than 3 % of our students were classified as Special Ed. Now over 40% are classified that way, mostly for the extra money received from Washington DC.

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