New powers for teachers come into force

Education secretary Alan Johnson has introduced new legal powers allowing teachers greater leeway in dealing with unruly children.

The new laws, which have now come into effect, give teachers the right to break up fights in school, as well as issue after-school or weekend detentions without parents’ consent.

Mobile phones can also be confiscated if they have been used in bullying or so-called ‘happy slapping’ attacks.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror today, Mr Johnson said that the measures were necessary in order to give teachers more authority in the classroom.

“These new powers are aimed at unresponsive and aggressive kids whose attitude to discipline owes much to the ‘Am I Bovvered?’ character made famous by Catherine Tate,” he told the newspaper.

“Most kids are well-behaved in school, but we want to take action against those who are consistently rude, disruptive and disrespectful.

“They’re making life miserable for teachers, and spoiling it for children who do want to learn.

“Teachers now have a clear legal power to act swiftly and decisively against troublemakers. It means kids who step out of line can expect to be appropriately punished,” Mr Johnson added.

Under the previous rules, teachers had complained that they were limited in their powers to intervene with unruly or violent pupils.

Teaching unions have broadly welcomed the changes, although they are concerned that clearer guidelines need to be provided to schools and parents.