Headteachers have welcomed the government’s plans to give them more powers to discipline students but say they are yet to be convinced that the move will make a great deal of difference in dealing with bad behaviour.

The Association of School and College Leaders carried out a poll of 100 of its members and found that only 13% thought that giving teachers the legal right to discipline students, including the right to restrain pupils using reasonable force, would have a significant impact on improving behaviour in their schools.

The majority, 59%, said it would have some impact on behaviour but 28% said it would have no impact.

‘The survey reflects what members have been telling us, that the vast majority of students are well behaved and come to school motivated and eager to learn,’ said Dr John Dunford, general secretary of the ASCL.

‘However we do know that behaviour in society has got worse in recent years,’ he added. ‘Schools cannot be expected to solve all the ills of society. Children like to know where they stand – firm, fair discipline, which often does not happen in the home, creates the best climate for learning and growing up.

‘Schools need as many tools as possible to help them deal with poor behaviour and for that reason we welcome the extended powers to discipline students. These will give teachers confidence to know that they have the law behind them when they deal firmly with poor behaviour.’

This article first appeared in School Governor Update – April 2006