The government has issued guidance in England that permits headteachers to press criminal charges against students who make false allegations against teachers. To enforce discipline in schools, Education Secretary Michael Gove has introduced a range of measures, including allowing schools to search mobile phones for inappropriate material. Headteachers can temporarily or permanently exclude pupils who make false allegations, subject to the new guidance. In addition, teachers have greater protection, with an assumption of reasonableness unless proved otherwise, and confirmation that they can use reasonable force to control children. Presently, they can be suspended solely on a student’s word. A 2009 survey found that almost 30% of school staff had made false allegations of misconduct against students; 16% of these claims were passed to the police. The Department for Education is publishing new discipline guidance, which will reduce regulations from 600 pages to 50.
A new adviser has been appointed to help schools with pupil behaviour. Charlie Taylor, a headteacher and consultant who has worked in and advised some of London’s most challenging schools, will take up the post. Taylor’s approach addresses fundamental gaps in children’s development, such as teaching them to welcome affection, and he is openly critical of league tables. Gove has stated that the appointment of someone of Taylor’s calibre demonstrates the government’s seriousness in tackling the issue of school discipline. Last year, Gove promised a "new deal" for teachers regarding classroom discipline, which included the removal of the "no touch" rules that often discouraged teachers from restraining or comforting schoolchildren.