Just wait till your dad logs on
Schools are giving parents online access to logs of their children's behaviour so they can learn almost instantly of their smallest misde- meanours.
One of the early adopters of the system, Mascalls School, a rural secondary near Tonbridge in Kent, believes it has helped to improve discipline and cut the number of days lost in temporary exclusions by almost a half.
One enthusiastic father said he was using the information about his son's behaviour, accessed through the school's website, to determine how much pocket money he gave.
Mark Waller, the deputy head, said: "The parents love it. If the system goes down, I'm flooded with emails and phone calls. Teachers find it very therapeutic. If there has been some bad behaviour and they record it, they feel better afterwards.
"The kids don't see the system as sinister they're quite relaxed about it. But they know that if they mess around, their parents will find out by the end of the day."
Mascalls has been using the Facility system, developed by Serco Learning Solutions, for a year. It stores details about each child's behaviour, attendance and academic results as well as timetables and homework.
Tony Lockwood, the company's consultancy manager, said that although more than 1,000 state secondary schools use the system, only a very small minority give full access to parents. He said many allow parents to view details of their child's attendance and academic results but not behaviour.
"Schools are nervous about publicising information about behaviour," Mr Lockwood said. "In the heat of the moment, after a terrible incident, teachers might write things that they later regret."
He said schools giving parents access to details on attendance found they became more active in monitoring absences.
Mr Waller said Mascalls School had found the system useful for ensuring absences were authorised.
"Teachers take a register every lesson so parents can go online and check up. Often, when the school contacts them, they say they already know about an absence."
Anne-Marie Mulkerins, assistant head of the Compton School, a mixed secondary in Finchley, north London, said Year 10 parents had been able to access the school's Facility system for a year. However, they are not allowed to view details of behaviour.
"We don't want parents to become over-anxious or think that an incident is more important than it is," she said.
Parents of children in Y7 and the new Y10 could also access the system from the start of this term. Ms Mulkerins said staff at the school had found the system particularly useful in dealing with truancy, and this had helped it to achieve the best attendance record in the borough last year.
A variety of computer systems which record behaviour but which do not provide parental access to the data are being used by other schools. In Bedfordshire, most have adopted Behaviour Log, which gives them detailed feedback on the effectiveness of their behaviour management.
Carmen Norman, director of the programme, said a trial by 20 schools in the county last year had shown marked improvements in behaviour. "The system can produce graphs showing the number of incidents of a particular kind, whether it is swearing or bullying," she said. "Teachers can compare rates before and after specific strategies were introduced.
"They can also identify patterns of behaviour in an individual child. It can help them become more proactive about behaviour."
A spokesman for Bedfordshire county council said Behaviour Log had been made available to all the county's 220 lower, middle and upper schools from the start of this term, and most were using it.