On Monday, four groups submitted a joint proposal for reform of school legislation to Education Minister Jukka Gustafsson. The white paper was put together by the Trade Union of Education in Finland (OAJ), the Finnish Association of Principals, Opsia, an organisation of educational experts, and the Parents' League.
The study recommends expanded powers for teachers and principals to maintain discipline. For instance, they say, it should be easier to force an uncooperative student to leave the school premises.
It also says educators should have the right to search pupils’ bags if they have reason to believe they contain dangerous, illegal or disruptive items, and to remove such objects if found. At present, teachers only have the right to confiscate a pupil’s disruptive mobile phone for the duration of a class.
The groups are also urging closer cooperation between parents and schools, particularly in regard to punitive measures. As it is, the report says, students often simply ignore orders to stay after school for detention. In future, the groups argue, they should be forced to comply with such orders before the end of the school term at the latest.
The paper also suggests that pupils could be made to carry out useful chores such as raking the schoolyard or organising books in the library instead of just sitting in detention. Punishment could also be agreed on with parents, for instance, withholding the youngster’s allowance or right to play electronic games if they consistently neglect their homework or skip school.
The report proposes that schools should be able to suspend students for a few days. In such cases, parents, school health officials and municipal social workers would all be notified. They could all then work together with the young truant to help prevent recurrence of the problem.
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