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Crowe welcomes school discipline reforms

26 January, 2007


Sinn Féin Education spokesperson Seán Crowe TD has welcomed Minister for Education and Science Mary Hanafin's legislative commitment to amend the contentious Section 29 of the Education Act, 1998.

The Dublin South-West TD said: "Section 29, which has been highly contentious in education circles, has been criticised for making it virtually impossible for continually unruly and disruptive students to be removed from the school environment. This scenario has resulted from the balance being tilted heavily in favour of the disruptive student.

"The crux of this issue is ensuring that the right balance is struck between pupils who are engaged in disruptive behaviour receiving a fair hearing and the necessary supports, and ensuring that the rights of the teacher to teach, and the other pupils to learn, in a disruption-free environment are also upheld. The necessary administrative supports must also be there for schools dealing with these processes.

"School discipline, or indeed the need for it, has become a core issue in Irish education. All students and teachers alike should have the right to a school experience exempt from bullying and disruption. I hope the Minister's new proposals will get the right balance in the school community. Physical, verbal and emotional abuse should have no place in our classrooms.

"With Section 29, schools have faced administrative and financial burdens. The days of disruptive students returning to classrooms at the expense of the broader student population should be ended. The next logical step for the government to complement this reform is ensuring a reduction in class sizes."

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