What keeps me awake at night - Our joke of a behaviour policy isn't very funny

13th December 2013 at 00:00

The behaviour isn't "bad" in our school: children don't swear at teachers, there aren't any gang-style fights and the majority actually want to learn. However, the behaviour policy has been turned into a joke.

Students play the system - and good for them. It shows initiative, at least. There are no set-in-stone escalations or rules as to what happens when a child misbehaves. The few times I have raised the matter, I have been rebuffed with "It's on a case-by-case basis" or "What do you feel is the best way to deal with this?"

This is not good enough. Students know that the worst punishment comes from the class teacher - break and lunchtime detentions, although setting them means no break for us either.

If we want to take punishment further, we can give students an official lunchtime detention, but they usually don't attend and senior staff don't enforce follow-ups or have discussions about absences. Non-attendance leads to an after-school, once-a-week silent detention. The consequence for not turning up is... a lunchtime detention. And the cycle starts again.

How is this efficient? How does it teach children about real-life consequences? It is so rare for the senior leadership team to actually do something that they are not "known" well enough by the children to be a deterrent. Occasionally, the leadership team may dish out a few days of exclusion. But this is an empty punishment that promises the student a few days off to play Grand Theft Auto V.

What we are missing is the middle ground. The "go and see the headteacher" that used to send a tremor of fear through my veins when I was at school. But here they know the system and have twigged that if they push it far enough, it gets forgotten and not dealt with.

Teachers have control over the everyday scenarios of homework failures or rudeness but there is no escalation. The school is existing in a state of ignorant bliss. Not dealing with the everyday problems makes me worry that the students' behaviour will get worse. Not having the procedures in place will serve only to turn our calm school into the place of mayhem it could so easily become.

The writer is a teacher in the South of England.

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