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Time for teachers to get tough?

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Jenny
726305.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:00 pm Reply with quote

I suppose this article is what one might expect to read in the Telegraph, but I was fairly appalled by it. Or have things really deteriorated to such an extent in schools these days that this seems necessary?

 
Spud McLaren
726308.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 1:56 pm Reply with quote

To judge by my wife's experience when working at a local secondary school, some schools are greatly in need of a change in approach to discipline. Teachers' hands have been tied for a number of years. There need to be better provisions for teachers to assert their authority, but probably not those outlined in the article. For instance, if my daughter is justly given a detention, she will be serving it, but definitely not the same day.

 
crissdee
726339.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 2:55 pm Reply with quote

I have had little or nothing to do with any school since I left in 1978. Is it really the case that 24 hrs notice has to be given now before a child can serve detention? Back in my day, a teacher could hand out detention at the drop of the proverbial chapeau, and that was the end of the matter. Many was the time that a youthful and rebellious crissdee was to be found sweeping classrooms and putting away chairs instead of sitting in front of "The Hair Bear Bunch" in the family's metaphorical embrace. Not that it did much good, a fact that is clearly demonstrated by the number of times I endured such things, only to lay myself open to further detention the next day.

 
cornixt
726340.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:16 pm Reply with quote

My school had a policy that 20 minute detentions were served that day, more than that and you had one day notice.

 
AnneB
726346.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:38 pm Reply with quote

At my school, the kids have to have 24-hour-notice, per policy. The reasoning is that, as we are a rural district and some kids live 20 miles away, students need the time to make transportation arrangements.

 
Jenny
726368.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:01 pm Reply with quote

That seems logical to me - a lot of kids depend on school transport, even in the UK (my youngest did for one) and notice is needed.

It seems a seedy and unsatisfactory slippery slope to me to encourage teachers to lay hands on pupils in any way at all.

 
suze
726376.  Wed Jul 07, 2010 5:48 pm Reply with quote

My school has a policy - and I believe it to be a Kent-wide policy - that at least 24 hours' notice of a detention is given. The main reason for that is indeed to do with transportation - some pupils live in villages with rather limited bus services.

Although in fact, at my school it's usually more notice than that since we only run detention once a week (usually but not always on a Thursday). That's a girls' grammar school thing - we don't issue all that many detentions, so everyone who has one is sent to one place with one teacher.

I've issued precisely one detention in the nearly two years I've been there, and that one may have been a bit of a harsh call on my part. Those teachers who struggle to keep control of their classrooms issue rather more, which says more about them than anything else.


I agree entirely with Jenny that I don't ever want to use physical force in the classroom. I've never done it or felt that I wanted to, and I plan for it to stay that way.

Neither do I want to search pupils. Except in the sixth form, our girls are not supposed to bring cellphones or MP3 players to school. If I see one, the offending pupil gets A Look, and the forbidden item disappears from sight faster than snow in the springtime. That's good enough for me; I have no intention of peering through their schoolbags to see what's in them.

Similarly, I have far better things to do than pull pupils up over minor breaches of the uniform rules, and I've been challenged about this by senior staff once or twice. I just say that I hadn't noticed that the skirt was an inch too high or that one earring more than permitted was being worn. I probably had noticed, if truth be told, but I don't really give.

The pupils seem to understand and respect the way I work - although I certainly don't phrase it this way in class, I won't take the piss if they won't. Most of what the Daily Telegraph is reporting as new policy should be unnecessary in a well-run school.


One thing that I will support is the plan to grant anonymity to teachers who are the subject of accusations, until such time as there has been shown to be any substance to those accusations. I know teachers who have been the subject of malicious accusations.

 
Hummingbird
726437.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:00 am Reply with quote

Instant detention is unworkable if it means children stay on past the time school buses pick up. Surely for this you need 24 hour's notice?

A child would be stranded with no transport, in the dark in the wintertime, possibly many miles from home and no guarantee that a parent could come and pick them up. I'd imagine that if such a child was harmed in these circumstances the school would be rightly prosecuted.

As for laying hands on children I'd guess that most teachers have done this instinctively many times. A hand on a shoulder to assert authority works wonders for Primary school children. Yet it is true that you worry it is assault.

We are in process of re-writing the behaviour policy for the after school club to allow for physical restraint. If you have an ADHD child hitting other children or simply endangering themselves by climbing up the curtains (it happened) sometimes the only thing that works is picking them up and removing them.

Older children - different rules.

I've seen the massive difference that a change of Headteacher makes to discipline in a school. Same children and teachers but a different tone can change everything.

As with parenting, maintaining discipline is a real skill for teachers. Those who can't achieve it should be marched out the building.

 
suze
726463.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:18 am Reply with quote

Hummingbird wrote:
I'd imagine that if such a child was harmed in these circumstances the school would be rightly prosecuted.


I'm not sure about that actually. The usual understanding is that school is responsible for a pupil only when the pupil is on school premises (or off them on official school business). It is thus the responsibility of the parents to make whatever arrangements may be necessary for travel to and from school. Mayor Johnson has spoken on this in the last few days - a headteacher had threatened to refer social services when he discovered that two of his pupils were cycling to school unaccompanied, and Boris opined that it was none of the headteacher's business.

All the same, I absolutely take the point that you make - same-day detention is really a non-starter.

Hummingbird wrote:
As for laying hands on children I'd guess that most teachers have done this instinctively many times. A hand on a shoulder to assert authority works wonders for Primary school children. Yet it is true that you worry it is assault.


Perhaps especially those teachers who are parents themselves. Personally, it's not a thing I'd be especially likely to do - although I'll admit to having done hi-fives with sixth form students. (Then again, I'm not a parent myself and I don't teach primary school.)

Hummingbird wrote:
As with parenting, maintaining discipline is a real skill for teachers. Those who can't achieve it should be marched out the building.


Quite right too. It's been noted in the media in recent days that there are still too many utterly useless teachers around, and that it's still quite hard to get rid of them.

 
Jenny
726501.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:59 pm Reply with quote

A teacher can be an excellent disciplinarian and still be a lousy teacher. I remember a guy I used to teach with in the 70s - the kids were terrified of him, though I never saw him touch them, and there was always absolute silence in his classes. Every time you walked past his classroom door it was open, the kids were silent and bent over books reading or copying. How much actual learning took place is anybody's guess.

 
soup
726557.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:19 pm Reply with quote

I was a complete sook (good natured, swot, prefect, house vice captain, all that) at school and still managed to get lots of detentions for being late.
It got so bad that the deputy head master said there was no point giving me detentions as they obviously didn't work and anyway as I was in sixth year I didn't have to be there . Even then (31 years ago) We didn't serve detentions on the day that we were given them, but once one was given there was NO appeal, you were lucky if your parent(s) didn't give you some sort of punishment too rather than going to school to shout the odds at teachers.

 
cornixt
726571.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:35 pm Reply with quote

Maybe my school was different because 99% of pupils lived within 3 miles, so easy walking distance. I live two miles away and I only knew a few who lived further. I can't think of a single pupil who lived outside the town, but there were a few friends who lived there who went to schools otuside of my town.

 
suze
726589.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:26 pm Reply with quote

cornixt wrote:
99% of pupils lived within 3 miles, so easy walking distance.


That's what has changed since your school days.

Almost no pupil walks three miles to school today, partly because of paranoia about abduction (yes, some parents seem genuinely to believe that their child is sure to be abducted if he or she goes anywhere unaccompanied), and partly because of laziness.

Conversely, more children now than formerly do have to travel long distances to school, simply because some rural and suburban schools have been closed.

The kids I mentioned above - the ones whose headteacher didn't think they should be cycling to school - turn out to live one mile from their school. And still the headteacher is saying that they must be accompanied to school, or else social services will be involved.

 
Efros
726597.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:01 pm Reply with quote

Education policy in the west over the last 30 years has created this sort of environment, it requires a sea change in the schools, in government and at the training level. too many educational theorists with too little real classroom experience spouting bullshit.

 
samivel
726602.  Thu Jul 08, 2010 6:00 pm Reply with quote

How much classroom experience spouting bullshit should a teacher have, then?

;)

 

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