Extra powers to tackle unruly pupils

Teachers will be granted greater 'stop and search' powers and heads will have the right to press criminal charges against pupils who make false allegation under new government proposals.

New guidance has been issued to schools that aims to stamp out behaviour problems in the classroom, which could result in students having their bags searched for banned items such as mobile phones, drugs and alcohol.

Headteachers in the Norwich area gave a mixed response to the plans announced by education secretary Michael Gove. However, they welcomed proposals that would allow them to temporarily or permanently exclude students who make false allegations and in extreme circumstances press charges against pupils.

The government said that the measures would help stop many teachers from leaving the profession by giving them greater powers to tackle disruptive pupils.

The new 50-page guidance, which is subject to an eight-week consultation, aims to clarify where teachers stand, including being able to use reasonable force to remove a pupil from a lesson and powers to discipline pupils who get into trouble outside the school gates.

The new Education Bill will also extend the powers to search pupils, stop appeals panels for excluded children and give teachers anonymity when facing allegations.

Tim Lawes, headteacher of Catton Grove Primary School, in Norwich, said 95pc of schools had good discipline. He added that it was a 'contentious' issue to give schools more 'stop and search powers'.

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In Norfolk, 95 children were excluded from school in 2009/10 compared to 104 in the previous year.

Nicola Furneaux, headteacher of Framingham Earl High School, near Norwich, said: 'I can not see it making a huge difference to our practices on the ground. We try to do things alongside our students and families and try not to get into conflict with them.'

According to latest figures, almost 1,000 children are suspended every school day for abuse and assault across the country, while nearly a third of all permanent exclusions in secondary schools are due to persistent disruptive behaviour.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, also welcomed measures to help falsely accused teachers, but many of the extended 'policing' powers would be difficult to enforce.

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