HC Deb 15 March 2001 vol 364 cc726-7W
27. Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will make a statement on discipline in schools. [152576]

Jacqui Smith

We regularly meet representatives of the teacher associations and discipline is one of the issues discussed at these meetings.

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools' latest annual report shows that behaviour is good in three quarters of secondary schools and almost all primary schools, although he noted increasing levels of poor behaviour in the early years of secondary school. That is why we are providing record levels of funding—£174 million in 2001–02—a third more than this year and 10 times more than in 1996–97—to help schools and local education authorities tackle poor behaviour and provide education for excluded pupils.

This is helping to pay for the 1,000 on-site Learning Support Units which take disruptive pupils out of the classroom quickly, improve their behaviour and reduce the need for exclusion. This network has been delivered a year ahead of the original target date.

We are giving heads the full support they need to tackle disruptive and violent behaviour, including the use of exclusion where appropriate. We have clarified our exclusion guidance to emphasise that heads can permanently exclude pupils who are very disruptive or violent. And the new guidance for exclusion appeal panels makes clear that the head's decision should not be overridden in a range of circumstances including where there is violence or the threat of violence.

Where an exclusion is necessary provision for excluded pupils is being greatly increased. There are over 1,000 more places and nearly 600 more teachers, instructors and education support staff at Pupil Referral Units compared with 1997. Planned LEA funding for PRUs increased by 13 per cent. this year compared with last, and we expect to see a 10 per cent. rise in the number of PRUs in 2001 compared with 2000. And by 2002 all local education authorities plan to provide a full timetable for excluded pupils.

37. Mr. Nicholas Winterton

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what recent meetings he has had with teachers' representatives to discuss discipline in schools. [152587]

Jacqui Smith

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given earlier today to the right hon. Member for Wealden (Sir G. Johnson Smith).

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