Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, is supporting new policy proposals to raise standards in schools, and tackle worsening pupil discipline. The Conservative Administration of Hertfordshire County Council is currently working on proposals to increase facilities for disruptive pupils to be taught outside mainstream schools. In addition the Conservative Party?s Policy Review proposes that costly appeals panels be abolished leaving a right of appeal in exceptional cases.
Peter Lilley said:
“Hertfordshire schools have a fine and well deserved reputation, but they could do even better but for problems of maintaining discipline, teacher shortages and Whitehall micromanagement. We need to offer the best possible education opportunities for all children, wherever they live in Hertfordshire, whatever their parents earn. We should start by restoring authority in our schools and civility in our classrooms.
“To improve discipline, we should abolish the appeals panels for excluded, unruly pupils leaving a right of appeal to the LEA in exceptional cases. Exclusion decisions made by headteachers should be overturned only where they are manifestly unjustified. The independent Appeals Panels, created by the Labour Government to second-guess the exclusion decisions of heads and governors, now overturn one in three decisions nationally. This damages teacher morale and disrupts the education of other pupils. I have received a deputation of pupils supporting their head teacher whose decision to exclude a pupil involved in a knifing incident had been overruled in this way.
“We must support head teachers and governors in their efforts to establish a framework of discipline in their schools. This issue of teachers? authority to establish discipline in the classroom has often been raised at my regular meetings with the Hertfordshire Association of Secondary School Headteachers (HASH).
“I am glad the County is increasing facilities for disruptive pupils to be taught outside mainstream schools. Disturbed children need special care as much as schools need to be freed from disruption.
“This is the first in a series of practical and positive policy proposals, showing how Conservatives want to give all our children the best possible start in life.?
Cllr. Robert Gordon, Hertfordshire County Council Executive Member with responsibility for Children, Schools & Families, adds that Hertfordshire has shifted its approach in light of Labour?s mishandling of school exclusions.
“We also recognise the effect that the unacceptable behaviour of a few children has on the hard-working majority and on school staff. We have made it clear that exclusion must remain the right response to behaviour that undermines the learning opportunities – and, possibly, the safety – of others.?