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School punishment too harsh?

(161 Posts)
Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:27:15

Not sure if I’m unfairly taking DD’s side but she has been punished quite severely considering this is the first time in 5.5 years we have been contacted about her behaviour...

DD, 9, was on her way back from an inter school athletics competition when they reached the school perimeter, saw their friends in the playground and a group of about 12 kids ran, maybe 20 metres along the length of the fence to the school gate. On the pavement, no roads crossed, but obviously risked falling and she definitely did know that they weren’t supposed to run. I have no issue with her facing the repercussions, but I feel that the punishment they received is excessive:

They were called to the head and told off (so they couldn’t finish lunch despite being in school early for the competition, having no snacks during the event and DD having an after school club).

They had to write letters of apology to the teachers on the trip.

They had a detention.

They were banned from external sports event for the rest of the half term (4 weeks) - the head said it was to give them a short, sharp shock, but for DD is has been torture. She is OBSESSED with sports and has missed two events she has been looking forward to/training for, for a year. One of which she was the only person in her year to qualify for the finals for last year, and the other a sport that no one else in her year plays, but that she is talented at and plays for a club. I feel this means she is impacted to a greater degree - we are friends with some of the other kids punished and most are not interested in these two events so wouldn’t try out anyway and told me they don’t care about the punishment. I don't think she should have special treatment because of her love of sports, but I do think the punishment, while relevant to the crime, is not fair to all the children. She has also missed a couple more events that she would have liked to go to but is not as passionate about.

I have had a meeting with the head to discuss the incident, and thought that maybe there was more to it, but no. ‘Just’ the running. And she couldn’t understand how the sport ban punished some children more than others.

BlackCatSleeping Fri 08-Feb-19 23:31:54

That’s really excessive. I feel sorry for your daughter.

Are the sports events connected to the school? If not, I’d take her anyway.

Greensleeves Fri 08-Feb-19 23:34:09

That does seem weirdly draconian for a 9yo. If you've already had a meeting with the Head, how did that go? Did you say that you felt it was disroportionate? Did you feel listened to?

Stompythedinosaur Fri 08-Feb-19 23:34:34

That is weirdly excessive!

Crockof Fri 08-Feb-19 23:34:57

I would be cross but then I don't see sport as a luxury /treat. It's a way of life and as important as maths. They wouldn't say no maths for four weeks.

OwlinaTree Fri 08-Feb-19 23:35:11

Wow. That's a bit ott. For running along a pavement because they were excited?

Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:35:13

Unfortunately they are inter-school events.
One of them is rugby which she loves - none of the other kids in her year have ever played and they have asked her to teach them in the playground before the match...

BlackCatSleeping Fri 08-Feb-19 23:38:12

A sports ban is a really terrible punishment. sad

Armadillostoes Fri 08-Feb-19 23:39:39

YANBU-Given that you kept an open mind, talked to the head and she was so unreasonable (presumably either dense or arrogant) it would seem appropriate to write to the Chair of Governors.

Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:39:42

Greensleeves, it was rather long winded, but essentially I was told it was a health and safety/safeguarding issue (they could have fallen and banged their heads) and that my point about her being punished more than others was wrong because there is no guarantee she would get in as it's not just about ability but about attitude.
....she has been selected for every team for every competitive event in the last 5 years. Even sports she doesn't like or play. She's just one of those kids. Takes after her father not her two-left footed mother grin

Brightburn Fri 08-Feb-19 23:41:41

It's about safety and broken trust. Your DD broke the rules and ran off, breaking the rules and the teacher's trust in her at the same time. Age 9 is year 4/5 and definitely knows better than to run off. I'm on the school's side with this one.

Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:46:09

Brightburn, I agree.
I'm not disputing that she did wrong or that she should be punished.
I am disputing the severity of that punishment and how it has effected the children involved disproportionately.

She has had 4 punishments, one lasting a month.

Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:48:33

Armadillo, that's one reason I posted - to get an idea of opinion before I write and ask for a copy of the school's complaint's procedure.

wonderingsoul Fri 08-Feb-19 23:50:35

That is very ott for a first response.

A detention and maybe miss one game.

But the rest is rediculas. I would be informing the school that you will be putting in a complaint to offstead.

Is there a way you can take her to these games or won't they accept her if the school says no.

WhichUsernameIsLeft Fri 08-Feb-19 23:54:04

Going to throw the cat among the pigeons here:

Can you imagine how much you would be pooping your pants if, as the teacher in charge, 12 of your pupils started running off to do something they should not? It doesn't matter that it was "only to the school gate" etc. This could have so easily been an "aibu to think teacher should be able to control 9 year olds". One teacher to loads of kids. The kids need to take responsibility for their actions and know that breaking rules leads to consequences.

Your job is not to wonder if the punishment fits the crime nor if it effects all of the children equally. Your job is to be concerned with the behaviour of your child only and to support the school in their management of her behaviour.

(I do also agree that cutting exercise shouldn't really be a punishment but that bit doesn't really matter)

Lizzie48 Fri 08-Feb-19 23:55:08

It does sound weirdly draconian as a punishment. A detention I would understand, and yes missing one game would be appropriate, but all the other games, that I don't get at all. Especially as sport is so important to your DD.

Witchesandwizards Fri 08-Feb-19 23:55:11

They were also starving as they left school at 8.30am, were told it wasn't necessary to take snacks as they would be back in time for lunch, had a morning of athletics and the head admitted they were later back than planned. DD said she was starving. Surely not conducive to good behaviour?

arethereanyleftatall Fri 08-Feb-19 23:57:03

Yanbu. That is a ridiculous punishment.

Greensleeves Fri 08-Feb-19 23:57:26

I would think not giving them time to eat is also a health and safety issue.

I think the punishment is disproportionate, personally. Your Head sounds pretty intractable though, so you would have to make quite a big, formal fuss to get anything done about it. It's probably not the hill I would choose to die on. But I feel sorry for your dd who should be being encouraged in her very healthy, worthwhile pursuits.

MitziK Sat 09-Feb-19 00:01:24

There could be a subcontext that they, as a group, deliberately ignored the staff members and they're stamping on the behaviour so hard because they want to break that dynamic before it becomes more than a once-off event; it caused no physical harm this time, but had they not received a considerable punishment, perhaps they might feel it's something to do on a school trip where there is a lot of traffic or where somebody walking by could be hurt or scared by ten stampeding 10 year olds.

After all, if they're running 60 foot away, there is absolutely no chance a staff member is able to stop an accident - and these days, it is conceivable that the parent of a child falling over and breaking an arm or leg (or Heaven forbid, getting hit by a vehicle backing out of the premises) would sue on the basis that the school failed to properly safeguard them whilst on a trip. The alternative would be to completely stop all trips of any kind because the children cannot be trusted to obey staff outside the school.

It's only a week until half term. She'll be back doing sport again soon enough - and I'm willing to bet that they'll all be far less likely to run off when out of school next time.

Redcliff Sat 09-Feb-19 00:02:50

Way too harsh - I think my ds at that age would just have got a telling off from his teacher and that would have been it.

Witchesandwizards Sat 09-Feb-19 00:05:59

Your job is not to wonder if the punishment fits the crime nor if it effects all of the children equally. Your job is to be concerned with the behaviour of your child only and to support the school in their management of her behaviour.

I do support the school which is why I had a meeting with the head and I reserved judgement until after this. And I agree that she needed disciplining.

Why is it not my job to want to see her treated fairly? What lesson does that teach - that some kids get away more lightly than others for the same behaviour? I expect to be treated fairly in the workplace - how is a school different? I believe that the first three punishments were adequate and fair. The fourth was water off a duck's back for some, and devastating for others.

ComeMonday Sat 09-Feb-19 00:06:10

Agree it’s way excessive. But isn’t the sports connection because they were coming from a sport event? While I see how it may affect your DD disproportionately sometimes that’s just the way it goes. Almost any punishment is going to affect some kids more than others. I was a total bookworm as a kid and I didn’t mind getting detention at all. I don’t think being hungry should be an excuse for kids of that age to behave badly but if your child genuinely didn’t get enough to eat that day as a result of this I would be fuming.

Itsyersel Sat 09-Feb-19 00:06:58

That is really appalling, Completely just imagine this thread if your DD had fallen and banged her head..or had to go to hospital....I bet it would be a "why was teacher not watching her" thread.

Witchesandwizards Sat 09-Feb-19 00:14:48

Itsyersel - we're not those parents. She plays full contact rugby... grin

For what it's worth, this isn't an anti school thing - I'm very involved and active with the school - PTA/helping with reading/going on trips on my days off - and would not blame the teachers. I actually like and respect the head.

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