5 Equipping teachers with the skills
and tools to manage behaviour: new powers |
63. The Government published a Written Ministerial
Statement on 7 July 2010, announcing new measures to tackle behaviour
and discipline in schools. These proposals were fleshed out in
the White Paper The Importance of Teaching; some will require
legislation. We consider some of the main proposals.
Powers of search and restraint
64. The Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning
Act 2009 introduced a power for members of staff to search pupils
for knives, offensive weapons, alcohol, controlled drugs and stolen
articles. The Schools White Paper proposes to extend that search
power to include pornography, tobacco, and fireworks. The White
Paper includes a commitment to "legislate through the forthcoming
Education Bill to give teachers a more general power to search
for any item which they reasonably believe is going to be used
to cause harm to others or to break a law so that, for example,
teachers can search for items such as phones or cameras which
they believe are going to be used in this way".
65. The Children's Rights Alliance for England argued
that the extended powers "constitute a significant intrusion
into children's privacy, which must be shown to be necessary and
proportionate in order to be lawful"; and it claimed that
legal advice given to Sir Alan Steer questioned the legality of
any general power to search.
argued that the extension of the power to
search would make teachers uncomfortable or could put them at
risk and inflame difficult situations. However, Mr John Bangs,
until recently Head of Education at the NUT, welcomed the expansion
of categories of item for which pupils can be searched, stating
that "allowing pupils to be searched for weapons, drugs or
stolen goods but not, for example, for an irritating and concealed
electrical device, represented an arbitrary distinction".
Evidence from the Teacher Support Network also highlights the
findings of the Network's 2010 Behaviour Survey, which found that
the majority of teachers who responded said that
the expanded set of search powers, announced by the Department,
would be important or essential in improving behaviour in their
current or most recent school. 69% of teachers who responded to
the 2010 Behaviour Survey regarded powers 'for teachers to search
pupils for stolen property and any other item which could cause
disorder or pose a threat' as important or essential for the future.
However, a greater majority said that 'additional training for
teachers on challenging behaviour and using restraint and search
powers' would be important or essential.
66. Daisy Christodoulou, an Ambassador for Teach
First, highlighted the importance of new powers as 'deterrents',
explaining that "it's not particularly that I want to search
a pupil's bag, but if there is a law and the school has the power
to do so, it sends a message. That's what I like about it. That
message does get through to kids, and it makes them think".
Other teacher representatives expressed similar views,
although the National Union of Teachers called for an "unequivocal
statement from Government that if teachers use their powers to
search pupils or their rights regarding physical restraint there
will be no unforeseen consequences arising from their actions
[...] Many are currently not confident that if they take such
action they will be supported by senior leadership teams, parents
or the local authority should an inquiry be conducted".
67. With regard to the Government's proposals to
improve guidance regarding teachers' use of force or physical
restraint, it was put to us that existing guidance was already
adequate. Ofsted told us that "the guidance on teachers'
disciplinary powers appears to be clear and Ofsted has no evidence
to suggest that schools do not understand these powers or that
they need to be extended". It did, however, acknowledge that
"it may be useful to schools to have these [powers] reiterated
in succinct guidance"which
is precisely what was proposed in the Schools White Paper.
Bangs added that teachers may benefit from greater training in
how to restrain, commenting that "the availability of good
training is again patchy and needs fundamental improvement in
availability. Teachers, themselves, need to be asked whether
or not they feel they would benefit from such training".
68. We support
proposals in the Schools White Paper to extend powers relating
to search and to clarify powers of restraint, in the interests
of supporting teachers' authority in managing behaviour. Guidance
on use of powers to restrain should include specific advice on
restraining pupils with Special Educational Needs or disabilities
in the interests of protecting both pupils' and teachers' safety.
School staff will only feel confident in using their powers if
they are regularly trained and if they sense that they have the
full support of school leaders in their use.
69. A separate point on pupil restraint was raised
by Treehouse, a national charity for autism education. Treehouse
expressed "serious concerns" should the requirement
to record and inform parents about incidents when force has been
used on their children be removed, explaining that
As autism is a disability affecting communication,
many children and young people will not be able to inform their
parents if force has been used on them. Communication difficulties
may also mean that children with autism do not know what 'appropriate
force' is, or why they are being disciplined. It is therefore
vital that schools keep parents informed about incidences when
force has been used to ensure that these practices are transparent
It is unclear from the White Paper whether the requirement
for schools to record incidents will be removed. As it stands,
the White Paper states that "we will give schools greater
discretion to decide on the most appropriate approach to monitoring
the exercise of these powers".
that the requirement to inform parents of incidents when powers
of restraint have been used on their children is in the interests
of building trusting relationships between schools and parents.
Abolition of 24 hour notice of
70. Many of our witnesses were wary of the Government's
proposals to abolish the requirement for schools to give 24 hours'
notice of detention outside school hours. Their concerns were
summed up by the Association of School and College Leaders:
For after school detentions there are a number of
practical considerations to take into account. Firstly there is
the safeguarding for the child; is it appropriate to delay a 12
or 13 year old on a dark evening to then potentially travel home
alone without having warned the parents (who may not be able to
collect the child)? For many schools there are transport issues
where students travel to school by coach and parents would need
to make arrangements to collect their child after the detention.
The 24 hour gap also gives a "cooling off" period for
the teacher who may have made a hasty decision. The school will
also need to consider the relationship with the parents/guardians
and a lack of prior notice, even if supported by statute, is likely
to irritate them. For these reasons we can see a large number
of schools not making use of this provision.
71. The impact of removing the notice for detentions
on school-parent relations was raised by several witnesses as
being potentially extremely damaging, with Sir Alan Steer commenting
that "it is disrespectful. You do not teach good behaviour
by behaving badly".
However, the National Union of Teachers welcomed the proposed
new flexibility, "with the caveat that sensitivity regarding
no notice detentions, where such action could make a child vulnerable,
is retained and schools themselves are trusted to make such judgements".
This concurs with the Schools Minister's stance that "this
isn't a prescriptive policy [...] This is a permissive power that
says that if you do not wish to give 24 hours, as a school, you
do not have to. Schools are public bodies and as a public body
they have to behave reasonably, so I don't believe that any school
wouldwell, any school would simply not be permitted toact
unreasonably in giving a detention".
72. We acknowledge
proposals in the Schools White Paper to legislate to abolish the
requirement for schools to give parents 24 hours' notice of detentions
outside school hours, and trust that schools will make sensible
and appropriate use of these powers. Schools must be particularly
sensitive to the needs of young carers and those with transport
Independent Appeal Panels for
73. At present, there is a two-stage appeal process
against permanent exclusions, firstly to the governing body and
secondly to an independent appeals panel. The Conservative Party
announced in an April 2008 Working Paper on behaviour and schools
that it would, if it came to power, end the right to appeal to
an independent panel against permanent exclusion.
The Conservative Manifesto for the 2010 Election appeared to confirm
this policy, saying that "we believe heads are best placed
to improve behaviour, which is why we will stop them being overruled
by bureaucrats on exclusions".
74. Our evidence showed very strong support for retaining
Independent Appeal Panels. However, there were mixed views as
to whether Panels should retain the right to re-admit excluded
pupils. On the one hand, NASUWT asserted that "independent
appeals panels should not direct the reinstatement of a pupil
where the disciplinary process has been carried out without any
procedural irregularities of a kind that might have affected the
fairness of the procedure".
On the other, head teacher Charlie Taylor told us, "having
sat in a former life as an LEA representative on those panels,
the decisions that actually did get turned over made me think,
'Damn right', because the school had run the show appallingly,
had failed to follow procedures and things hadn't been done right."
75. The Schools White Paper proposes reforms to the
exclusions appeals process whereby Independent Panels would be
retained but would lose their powers to reinstate pupils. If Panels
were to judge that there were flaws in the exclusion process,
they could request that governors reconsider their decision, and
schools might be required to contribute towards the cost of additional
support for the excluded pupil. Schools would not be forced to
re-admit pupils who they had excluded.
76. We support
the retention of Independent Appeal Panels for exclusions. The
new proposals for their functioning as outlined in the Schools
White Paper will need to be monitored and evaluated to assess
whether they strike the right balance in the interests of schools,
pupils and their parents and carers when exclusion occurs. We
do not believe that schools should be able to abdicate all responsibility
for disruptive children. However, it is important that school
governing bodies are equipped with the right knowledge and expertise
in order to arrive at fair judgments. While the focus should be
on justice and reasonableness, governing bodies do also need to
be familiar with training on exclusions protocols, which should
form part of the training for governors that we endorse in paragraph
62 of our Report.
121 The Importance of Teaching, para 3.10 Back
Ev w138 Back
e.g. Ev w142 [Southampton Psychology Service]; Ev 129 [Voice]
Ev w3 Back
Ev w119 Back
Q 249 Back
e.g. Q 130 Back
Ev 117 Back
Ev w161 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 3.9 Back
Ev w3 Back
Ev w94 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 3.9 Back
Ev 141 Back
Q 78 Back
Ev 117 Back
Q 263 Back
Giving Power Back to Teachers, Conservative Party Working
Paper, April 2008 Back
Invitation to join the Government of Britain, Conservative
Manifesto 2010, p 51 Back
Ev 125 Back
Q 131 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 3.29 Back