Behaviour and Discipline in Schools - Education Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. Nearly twenty-three years ago, the then Secretary of State for Education and Science commissioned Lord Elton to undertake a review of discipline in schools. In announcing the review, the Secretary of State voiced concerns about the behaviour of some pupils in some schools and pointed out that education can take place only if there is good order in schools.[1]

2. Much of what Lord Elton said in his Report, published in 1989,[2] remains valid today. As Sir Alan Steer observed in Learning Behaviour, a report commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills and published in 2005, "the core message of [Lord Elton's] report, about the need for a coherent whole school approach to promoting behaviour that is based on good relationships between all members of the schools community, still holds true". However, Sir Alan also noted that "whilst the overall principles of good practice are well established, it is clear that not all school leaders nor all school staff are effectively implementing that practice. We recognise that schools now work in a very different world to that of 16 years ago. Changes in society have created new challenges".[3]

3. Within weeks of the formation of the Coalition Government, the current Secretary of State made it clear that he would take steps to improve standards of behaviour in schools. In July 2010, the Department for Education published a series of proposals designed to re-assert and strengthen teachers' disciplinary powers;[4] and, during the course of our inquiry, the Department published a White Paper —The Importance of Teaching—which dedicates an entire chapter to behaviour. Some of the Government's proposals require legislation and are likely to be incorporated in a forthcoming education bill.[5] This Report, the first from this Committee, is intended to assist the Government in the development of its policy on behaviour and discipline in schools. We also hope that it will prove useful to Members of both Houses of Parliament during the passage of the Education Bill.

4. Within our terms of reference, we set out to establish a picture of the nature and level of behaviour by pupils in schools and the impact that challenging behaviour has on schools and their staff. We also aimed to understand how challenging behaviour can best be addressed, with a particular focus on the roles of schools and local authorities, and parents and carers.

5. Our call for evidence resulted in almost ninety written memoranda being submitted from witnesses including local authorities, academics, teaching unions, charitable organisations, providers of alternative education, and specialists in therapeutic and health services. In addition to written evidence, we held five oral evidence sessions and visited schools in Lewisham and Leicester and held meetings with local authorities in Leicester and Leicestershire. We are grateful to all our witnesses for taking the time to respond to our inquiry, but particular thanks are due to Duncan Harper, Head Teacher at New Woodlands School in Downham, London, and Liz Logie, Head Teacher of Beaumont Leys School in Leicester, for hosting our visits and enabling us to speak to children to hear their views on behaviour. Special thanks are also due to Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council for enabling us to meet their behaviour support teams and the very many partners involved in working to improve standards of behaviour in local schools. Notes of our meetings with both schools and local authorities are annexed to this Report.

6. Finally, we would like to credit our specialist advisers, Professor Alan Smithers, Professor Geoff Whitty, Nick Peacey and Dr John Dunford, whose expertise and advice has been highly valued throughout our inquiry.[6]

1   Discipline in Schools, HMSO, 1989, para 2. See  Back

2   Discipline in Schools, HMSO, 1989 Back

3   Learning behaviour: The Report of the Practitioners' Group on School Behaviour and Discipline, 2005, para 5 Back

4   HC Deb, 7 July 2010, cols 11-12WS Back

5   The Education Bill was expected to be published on the day after this Report was agreed Back

6   Specialist Advisers have declared the following interests: Professor Geoff Whitty declared interests as Director of the Institute of Education and Trustee of the University of London, up until 31 December 2010, and as Trustee of the IFS School of Finance; Nick Peacey declared interests as Trustee of the I CAN charity and as Trustee of the Association for the Protection of All Children; Dr John Dunford declared interests as a Trustee of Teach First, as a member of the Governing Council of the National College for Leadership of Schools and Children's Services, as a member of the Advisory Board for Future Leaders, as Chair of Whole Education, as Chair of Worldwide Volunteering, as leader of a review of the Office of the Children's Commissioner, commissioned by the Secretary of State for Education, as a consultant on school leadership for PricewaterhouseCoopers, as a consultant on school leadership for CapitaSIMS, as a member of the Advisory Board for Times Supplements Ltd., and as a Governor at St Andrew's CE Primary School, North Kilworth, Leicestershire. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 3 February 2011