Net learning for disruptive pupils

Disruptive children could get help from the Internet if plans unveiled in Scotland last week go ahead... Not everyone thinks it's a good idea.

The Internet could come to the rescue of schools with disruptive pupils according to Birmingham's director of education Tim Brighouse.

In a speech last week to an education conference in Scotland, Brighouse expounded the benefits of the Internet for schools, including the possibility of remote learning for disruptive children. Distance learning is already a reality in remote parts of Australia and in Florida.

For pupils with behavioural problems the Internet would allow pupils to be a part of the school curriculum without physically being at school and would have obvious advantages for stressed teachers Brighouse believes.

But not everyone agrees with Brighouse's maverick proposals. Liz Paver, headteacher of a primary school in Doncaster believes the Internet may not be the answer. "Who will police whether they are actually going to do any work. It is important that disruptive pupils experience school rather than isolation. Often behavioural difficulties are rooted in anti-social behaviour and we need to work towards the reintegration of pupils rather than exclusion."

The Department of Education and Employment is also wary about using distance learning for pupils with behavioural problems. "Information Computer Technology is a good way of boosting the confidence of disaffected pupils but we would rather it was used in special schools for such children rather than in isolation," he said.