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Ebbsfleet Academy principal Alison Colwell meets education minister Nick Gibb to discuss classroom disruption

A no-nonsense head teacher received an invitation to Parliament in a bid to help improve behaviour at British schools after she caught the attention of ministers.

Ebbsfleet Academy principal Alison Colwell was one of 10 “behaviour experts” requested to attend a meeting with education minister Nick Gibb as he looks to drive up classroom standards.

It was not the first time she has spoken with Mr Gibb.

The pair were put in touch after the school featured in an article in the Sunday Times about how it had turned around its reputation as one of the country’s worst performing schools.

Alison Colwell, principal at Ebbsfleet Academy
Alison Colwell, principal at Ebbsfleet Academy

Mrs Colwell said: “I was flattered to be asked to attend as one of 10 people nationally to discuss behaviour in school and the zero tolerance approach we have taken.

"It’s nice to be listened to.

“We are unashamedly strict and my experience is that parents feel strict schools with strict rules is a good idea, and the children have responded to that.

“He asked about how we raise standards which was a great opportunity to put across what we are doing at the school.

"There wasn’t a lot of dissent or disagreement. Our views were shared.”

The Ebbsfleet Academy
The Ebbsfleet Academy

Last month the government unveiled the appointment of school behaviour expert Tom Bennett as part of new reforms to raise standards and improve behaviour.

Mr Bennett’s role includes drawing up plans to help teachers deal with low-level disruption after Ofsted reported children were losing up to an hour of learning a day.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “As part of this government’s commitment to social justice we want every single person in the country to have access to the best opportunities Britain has to offer, starting with an excellent education.

“This means ensuring children study key subjects that provide them with the knowledge they need to reach their potential while setting a higher bar at GCSE so young people, their parents and teachers can be sure that the grades they achieve will help them get on in life.

“And it means giving new teachers the training they need to tackle low-level bad behaviour which unfairly disrupts pupils’ learning.”

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan
Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan

A DfE spokeswoman said: “Teachers have made great strides in restoring discipline and we have put them firmly back in charge of their lessons.

“Thirty thousand fewer pupils are being bullied today than a decade ago and fewer pupils are skipping lessons than ever before.

However, low-level disruption is still the curse of many classrooms across the country.

“In order to tackle low-level disruption, the Secretary of State last month announced that expert Tom Bennett will lead a review of teacher training on behaviour management to give all new teachers the skills they need to ensure children are able to do what they should be doing in schools – and that is learning.”

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