Schools: Satisfactory is ‘not good enough’

By staff

The schools secretary Ed Balls announced today that teams of behavioural experts would be sent into schools where behaviour is rated merely as “satisfactory”, which could include a quarter of all schools.

He also said the government supported headteachers who felt they had to exclude pupils and suggested they should use the power particularly to remove repeat offenders.

The announcement coincides with the publication of a new report by the government’s behaviour expert Sir Alan Steer.

Figures obtained by the Conservatives showed that more than 800 children were suspended ten or more times in the year 2007/8, which is almost three times the number from 2003/4.

“Headteachers, if they think a pupil needs to be expelled, they should expel – I have no doubt about that,” Mr Balls told the BBC.

“But let’s be clear, if you expel a pupil and they then are out on the streets, hanging around in the parks, it’s a different kind of problem for society. That’s not good enough – these kids should be in education.

“So we are all saying to schools today, work together, even if a pupil is excluded – let’s keep them in school. Parents have got a job to keep them off the streets. Let’s not have them hanging around the parks and causing trouble.”

Sir Alan’s report will recommend the use of withdrawal rooms which are designed to remove disruptive pupils from the classroom along with suggesting the reintroduction of other disciplinary measures such as detention.

“Suspending a child from school over and over again does them no good at all,” said shadow schools minister Nick Gibb.

“If a child has been seriously disruptive or violent, they should be properly removed so they can get the specialist help they need to return to mainstream education.”

The announcements come at a time where teachers are calling for action on discipline in schools. The NASUWT teaching union, holding its conference in Bournemouth, said up to five weeks of teaching are lost every year because of unruly pupils in the classroom.

They said each teacher can lose up to 50 minutes a day in trying to tackle the disruptive behaviour of a minority to the detriment of the majority.