Do detentions ever really work or are they old fashioned and pointless? Sarah, Essex

30th March 2007 at 01:00
A) I have taught in a number of schools with a detention system and they were totally pointless.

The same pupils appeared each time and learned nothing from the experience.

Tailoring sanctions to individual pupils is more effective. Spend quality time, one-to-one, to discuss issues, find solutions and set achievable targets.

John, Cumbria

A) In my experience detentions work. Most children loathe missing their free time and that is a lesson in itself. I find asking them to write about how they have behaved in relation to the rules works well.

Cindy, Todmorden

A) Because we have to give 24 hours' notice to parents, the detention often takes place too long after the unwanted behaviour and is simply counter-productive.

Give parents a call at home instead to let them know about their child's poor behaviour.

Chris, Solihull

A) We have just re-introduced half-hour, lunchtime detentions in a primary school. It has been welcomed by staff, parents and, believe it or not, pupils.

Alex, Surrey

A) Detentions work for me. I keep them short and use them to establish a dialogue with the pupil. I explain the issues, offer support and discuss solutions. I set detentions after three late homeworks or consecutive low-level disruption.

I make this clear every September and strive to be fair and consistent. The pupils soon learn my system and co-operate. It helps to establish a routine and a common understanding. After half a term there are only a few detentions to set.

Julie, Newport

A) There is no evidence of detention ever damaging anybody - or doing them any good.

We've all endured the silent hour of remorse while we contemplated the enormity of a crime such as excessive yawning during a biology class. It is a time-honoured and virtually meaningless ritual and should have a preservation order slapped on it.

Kevin, Cheltenham

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today