'Championing the rights of children'

Michael Gove: teachers should punish children with litter duty

Garry Sun 02 Feb 2014 09:15

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, launches new list of approved punishments for unruly children, including litter picking and mopping school halls.

Unruly pupils will be forced to pick up litter, tidy classrooms or mop dining hall floors, under a major overhaul of school discipline to be announced next week.

Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, will set out for the first time a list of government-approved punishments, including “community service” sanctions, such as weeding school grounds and cleaning up graffiti.

New guidance from the Department for Education, which will be sent to every state school in England next week, are intended to ensure that more teachers take a “tough" line with disruptive pupils.

According to official figures, more than 700,000 children are being taught in schools where behaviour in the classroom and playground is not good enough.

A recent survey found that almost one third of secondary school teachers do not feel confident about using the powers they have to discipline children who behave badly.

Mr Gove is concerned that many heads and teachers are confused about their own legal powers to punish children and fear being sued by parents or falling foul of health and safety laws.

The new Department for Education guide will contain a menu of potential punishments for the first time. These include traditional sanctions such as “writing lines”, issuing no-notice detentions for the same day, and searching pupils without their consent for illicit items such as knives or alcohol.

The recommendations also make clear that teachers have the legal authority to use “reasonable force” to remove an unruly child from a classroom when necessary.

Mr Gove said while pupils' behaviour had generally improved, with fewer children being excluded for abuse and assault in recent years, teachers must not be “afraid” to impose punishments when children misbehave.

“The best schools already ask pupils who are behaving poorly to make it up to their teachers and fellow pupils through community service,” he said. “I want more schools to follow their example by making badly behaved pupils pick up litter or help clear up the dining hall after meal times.

Read more... (Daily Telegraph - 02 February)