Bad behaviour in schools could be tackled by teachers eating alongside their pupils, a Tory former Cabinet minister has suggested.

John Gummer, who sits in the Lords as Lord Deben, came forward with the idea at Question Time yesterday. He won the backing of Education Minister Lord Nash who agreed it was an “extremely civilised” way for children to learn and said he had seen it first-hand at a free school in Bradford .

Lord Deben said: “Much behaviour in schools would improve if all teachers felt that when they were eating in school, they ate with the children at the tables and took real part in conversation.” He said they should do this “rather than sitting on one side and leaving less suitable people to supervise meals”. Lord Nash said he had recently visited a free school in Bradford, where they had “a scheme of family dining.” The exchange came as peers discussed ways of preventing bad behaviour in schools apart from punishment.