Nothing gets a grown-up party going quite like the subject of classroom discipline.

Over chips and dip, parents rail against disruptive kids who ruin their own offspring's education, but fall short of agreeing on how to stamp it out.

This week the Coalition added to the debate by issuing a simplified set of guidelines on discipline.

According to Charlie Taylor, the Government's new behaviour tsar, the “clear” advice (just 52 pages long in comparison to previous, more weighty tomes) should put a stop to teachers living in fear of litigation if they touch a child.

The simplified advice explains teachers can use ‘reasonable force’ to break up fights, stop children attacking classmates or teachers, and to remove disruptive kids from lessons, if necessary.

At a time when almost 1,000 children are suspended from school for abuse and assault every day, and two-thirds of teaching staff admit bad behaviour is driving colleagues out of the classroom, the aim is to give power back to teachers.

But is a more aggressive approach the way to empower our teaching staff?

Child and educational psychologist Teresa Bliss, who has spent 20 years running units for children with behavioural difficulties, thinks taking too harsh a line does more harm than good.

“When a school continually punishes those who get into fights, with detentions and exclusion, it’s like plugging in a volcano – the kids erupt.

“Instead of harsh punishments, your response must address the underlying issues that lead to the conflict, or give a young person strategies for dealing with the cause. Otherwise that child will become more and more angry, and things will never get better.”

Bliss believes measures suggested in the Government’s guidelines for cracking down on disruptive pupils sound unduly punitive.

They include searching pupils’ lockers for alcohol and weapons without their consent, airport-style screening checks and punishing pupils for misbehaviour committed outside school.

“Reading through the guidance it looks as though our schools are a war zone,” she says.

On the flip side, educationalists argue teachers need to feel empowered when approaching pupil discipline.

“Being able to restrain kids if they’re lashing out is perfectly sensible,” says Lee Jackson, who began his career as a youth worker, and now gives advice to teachers on how best to motivate young people.

“But I think the idea of searches, like in an airport, is ridiculous.

“We shouldn’t go down that road. You’re presuming everyone is guilty.”

Although the numbers may sound dramatic, Bliss points out that if 1,000 students are being suspended each day, as a percentage of the 8,923,400 being educated in England and Wales, that’s less than 0.001% of all students.

“The danger is this new guidance gives teachers who are not good classroom managers – and who are confrontational with pupils – carte blanche to continue with that behaviour,” she highlights.

In Jackson’s view, the best way to encourage good classroom behaviour is a combination of strong teaching and earning kids’ respect.

“I tell teachers that in ‘Generation Y’ you have to have a good relationship with pupils before they’ll listen to you.

“That’s why it never works having a string of supply teachers. The kids don’t have time to form a relationship with them.”

He adds that it’s not inevitable schools in poorer areas will have behavioural problems: “Deprivation cannot always be an excuse for having poor discipline. Just because a school is in a deprived neighbourhood doesn’t mean it can’t succeed.”