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Detentions make no difference, pupils claim

Immortalised in 1980s classic The Breakfast Club, detentions have been the bane of students’ lives over the years.

But a new study suggests that while detentions are disliked by pupils, they don’t actually make them behave any better. Instead of keeping a child after school, a letter home is more likely to do the trick.

The findings are contained in research published in this week’s TES, which surveyed pupils on the sanctions and punishments they found most effective.

And the conclusion is that keeping children behind during break or after school is widely resented and risks damaging the relationship between pupils and teachers.

Former teacher Ruth Payne, who led the study, said the findings showed that such sanctions did not achieve their goal of improving behaviour.

“They see that time as theirs and they resent teachers depriving them of it,” she said. “If they get a detention it doesn’t make them work harder, it just upsets them.”

So does this mean schools should start abandoning detentions? Not according to TES behaviour expert Tom Bennett. Pupils may not like being kept in after school, he said, but that is precisely what makes it an effective deterrent.

Read the full article in tomorrow's edition of TES on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.


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