New guidance on discipline issued for teachers

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The Department for Education has issued guidance for teachers on how they should tackle “bad” behaviour in the classroom. The DfE has also sought to clarify teachers’ powers to search students and use force.

The guidance states that schools should not have a “no touch” policy, claiming that it is often necessary or desirable for a teacher to touch a child, for example, when dealing with accidents or teaching musical instruments. Teachers have a legal power to use reasonable force which can be applied to remove a pupil who is disrupting a lesson or to prevent a child leaving the classroom.

Heads are allowed to search for an extended list of items including alcohol, illegal drugs and stolen property. Heads also have the power to discipline pupils who misbehave outside the school’s premises and outside school hours.

The guidance also includes a number of measures designed to protect teachers from malicious allegations and strengthen their authority in the classroom. These include the right of headteachers to exclude pupils who make false allegations. Heads are also told that they should not automatically suspend teachers accused of using unreasonable force.

The DfE has appointed a new Expert Adviser on Behaviour, Charlie Taylor, who is currently the Headteacher at the Willows School, a special school for children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties in Hillingdon, West London. His role will include working with schools and teacher training providers to encourage best practice in behaviour management and ensure that the Government’s reforms are put into effect.

Government figures show that 1,000 children are suspended from school for abuse and assault every school day, and last year, 44 school staff had to be rushed to hospital with serious injuries. Two thirds of teachers say bad behaviour is driving professionals out of the classroom.

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