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The word is derived from ‘disciple’ and originally meant ‘instruction imparted to disciples or scholars’. This concept of instruction has been taken in two directions, on the one hand order maintained among pupils (which might involve correction or punishment), and on the other, a particular subject area or branch of education, as in academic discipline.

In schools, the word is generally used in relation to pupils' behaviour. This is usually of great concern to parents, who will often judge behaviour as poor on the basis of one or two incidents. Inspectors have to judge more broadly on the basis of behaviour and attitudes in lessons, pupils' behaviour towards each other, their response to school policies on managing behaviour, and any records of racist and bullying ...

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