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Queen's expulsions expose need for early intervention, behaviour change in schools

Published:Sunday | May 24, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Ronald Thwaites
Everton Hannam

IN LIGHT of the strong action taken against students who were involved in a brawl at The Queen's School, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites is calling for schools to begin intervention for students as early as grade seven.

The expulsion of eight gang members at the St Andrew-based school was highlighted in yesterday's Sunday Gleaner.

"The ministry deplores any kind of antisocial and criminal behaviour in schools, it goes again to the strong instruction. I'm giving to students coming in at grade seven," Thwaites told The Gleaner yesterday.

"We should try not only to remediate academic shortcomings, but also to be fully aware of any social deficiencies they have, make full contact with parents and understand any community pressures they may be undergoing."

Thwaites indicated that remedial action at this early stage can mitigate against acts of indiscipline.

"I believe that if this is done effectively, there will be less tendency for behavioural problems to become so evident in later years," he added.

Thwaites highlighted that a national behaviour-change programme, currently being rolled out, is intended to address behavioural problems of students.

"In addition, there is a national school-wide behaviour-change initiative which emphasises values and attitudes appropriate to good citizenship and studentship, and I enjoin all schools to be extremely diligent in enforcing positive discipline and not to allow any kind of antisocial behaviour to creep into the schools," he said.


concerned about indiscipline


In the meantime, Everton Hannam, president of the National Parent-Teacher Association of Jamaica, said he was concerned about increasing indiscipline in schools.

"We are concerned about the reports of continued indiscipline being demonstrated in many of our schools. The headline in The Sunday Gleaner brings out clearly that there needs to be some more organised and consistent approach to some of the challenges being faced by educators," he said.

He explained that parent-teacher associations (PTA) have a role to play in ensuring discipline in schools.

"Parents continue to play an important role in ensuring that those matters are addressed. The strength of a parent-teacher association in an institution comes into play in working with the school administration to assure that discipline is maintained," he said.

Hannam is also calling for an accelerated implementation of the behaviour-change initiative being implemented by the ministry.

"We are aware that a recently approved safety and security policy, which will address behaviour change and indiscipline in schools, is to be implemented and we are calling for a speedy implementation of that policy which, I am sure, will include input from all stakeholders," he said.