Posted by Editor on 30th September 2009 at 11:02 PM
Balls focuses on classroom disruption
Schools secretary Ed Balls has announced a strategy to tackle unruly behaviour in classrooms.
Greater responsibility will fall on the parents of poorly disciplined children, who will have to sign an agreement promising to support teachers and the school if their child misbehaves.
Failure to uphold the promise could result in court charges under the new strategy, devised following a three-year investigation into behaviour problems in schools by the government's 'behaviour tsar' Sir Alan Steer.
The new move comes after the prime minister promised to tackle anti-social behaviour amongst teenagers by taking action against families which allow their children to breach the terms of their Asbos.
Balls has also revealed plans which will guarantee excluded pupils a good education even if they have been expelled. The plan is a response to concerns that troublesome pupils are "given up" on.
New statutory guidance for local authorities will include the minimum standards and hours that the offenders are entitled to receive.
Balls told the conference: "Parents want their children to go to an orderly school with a strong headteacher who won't tolerate bullying or disruptive behaviour in the classroom.
"So we will back headteachers, and expect all parents to back teachers too, so they have the confidence to use their powers to the full so they can get on and teach and all children can learn."
He outlined the differences between Labour and Conservative policies on education, saying voters have a choice.
"Between a Conservative Party determined to preserve excellence for those who have it and a Labour government committed to open up excellence and opportunity for all," he said.
"We are not going to cut investment in schools and Sure Start; we are not going to make cuts to frontline services that mean fewer teachers and teaching assistants."
Gordon Brown has promised that investment in frontline services, and in particular, schools, will not be cut.
The prime minister announced on Tuesday that school budgets would be protected for the next five years in an attempt to improve education and combat the effects of the recession on young people.
Balls also spoke of Labour's commitment to family life and its determination to protect children from the dangers of society.
He began his speech by remembering Baby Peter from Haringey, and praising the under-appreciated role of social workers, hailing it "the toughest job".
He continued: "Doing a job which can be tough and sometimes dangerous - but which saves lives and makes a huge difference to thousands of families.
"And unlike teachers or nurses, fire fighters and police officers where we can celebrate a life saved, a crime solved or a schools exam results, we rarely get the chance to celebrate the quiet successes of our social workers."
In reference to Baby P he said: "I had to take tough action – to restore public confidence and to strengthen frontline practice."
The schools secretary described Labour's vision to provide opportunity for all children regardless of their talents, needs or their parent's whereabouts or income.
"Every child should have the right to be safe and happy and the opportunity to make the most of their talents," he said.
"No barrier is too great to overcome if through our collective endeavour we can break down those barriers and give every child the opportunities they deserve."
Balls revealed that nurseries will soon be free for two-year-olds as well as three and four-year-olds.
In addition, families who need help with, or breaks from, their disabled child will get the necessary assistance.
The cabinet minister announced that by March next year there will be 3,500 Sure Start centres, one in every community.
"A new and universal pillar of our welfare state delivered by this Labour government," he said.
Whilst attacking Tory policies and admitting Labour are the "underdog" in the 2010 general election, Balls urged delegates to trust Labour.
Copyright Dod's Parliamentary Communications Ltd
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