Ed Balls may have been on the ropes this morning about his ex-colleague Damien McBride's antics in no 10. But he has a good report from Sir Alan Steer to highlight today at the NASUWT conference on school discipline and behaviour. Having consistent approaches to discipline, with clear sanctions and rewards, has brought real improvements to many schools, and can do so for the quarter or so deemed to be not good enough at the moment. So can the use of 'withdrawal rooms.'
Applying this approach - and using existing powers - is likely to be far more effective than any new legislation - as Sir Alan says, they have the powers already; at no 10, I pressed for a right to discipline which became part of the 2006 legislation - and it has the benefit of being good common sense. (The Tory idea that all heads need is a 'right to exclude without appeal' is fanciful, given that only 100 out of 8680 permanently excluded troublemakers are actually readmitted after exclusion [table 11] and this is one area where the government is right to hold the opposition to account).
I have one niggling doubt about the schools secretary's prescriptions, however: he wants local authorities to send expert teams into schools that don't come up to scratch. It would be far more effective to facilitate groups of heads working together to achieve solutions: heads learning from fellow heads are more likely to heed their advice.