Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Cameron's school discipline proposals are mostly empty gimmicks

David Cameron is launching a major initiative today "to increase discipline in schools".

All very laudable, except that he has chosen some strange ways of doing it.

-Expelled children's parents will no longer have the right of appeal to the LEA. But they will be able to appeal to a governors' panel. The difference is????? Well, Cameron says it will allow headteachers to be "captains of their ship" without being second-guessed by the LEA. So, they will be second-guessed by the governors' panels instead. Doh.

-Pupil referral units will be closed down because "they are too expensive and don't work". Instead the job of looking after expelled pupils will be given to voluntary bodies. Brilliant. I am sure voluntary bodies are really geared up and eager to look after steaming-mad pupils during the long daytime hours. Not.

-Home contracts will be enforced by, in Cameron's words, not admitting pupils to schools where the pupil's parents refuse to sign a home contract. Er? That's not enforcing the home contracts. Enforcing home contracts would require some penalty on the parents. All the parents have to do is sign the home contract and then ignore it - he doesn't seem to propose any enforcement method if that is done by parents.

-Special school closures will be stopped. Well, given that serious questions have been raised about the experience of closing special schools and integrating pupils in mainstream schools, this may well be a good idea.

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