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Michaela School and behaviour - AIBU

(988 Posts)
herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 10:36:28

AIBU to think that you might read this behaviour policy and think it is authoritarian and unnecessary, but to also think that, with results four times better than the national average, these people might have a point about the benefits to young people of being expected to work hard and behave well?

https://mcsbrent.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Behaviour-Policy-11.02.19.pdf

LiveInAHidingPlace Fri 23-Aug-19 12:04:40

A mix of rote learning and critical thinking is obviously best, that's the whole point of Bloom's taxonomy. That each stage is important and the point is to lead up to higher thinking.

Personally I hated the lack of discipline at my school. I did not understand why the other students didn't just sit down and shut up. I'm pretty sure I'd have been far happier at somewhere with far stricter policies.

BarbariansMum Fri 23-Aug-19 12:04:55

There is one near us. Wouldnt suit my kids but it is hugely oversubscribed and v popular with the parents of children with asd who need a highly structured (almost regimented) learning environment and very little free time. A friend is trying it for her ds who has ADHD. Again she hopes that he will find a very strict yet predictable regime will help him settle and focus. Knowing him I think it will either work well (after an initial period of adjustment) or be a total disaster. Fingers crossed for the former.

GCAcademic Fri 23-Aug-19 12:05:39

I wonder how many people appalled at silent corridors have ever been inside a school when pupils are moving from one classroom to another? I did some teaching observations at what was supposed to be the best state school in a small city and it was awful, absolute chaos and so noisy. A fight broke out between two strapping year 11 boys at one point. It was scary. It would have been more scary if you were a great 7 girl, I’m sure, and even more so if you had something like autism. People talking about the Equality Act should consider how well this kind of noisy, intimidating atmosphere serves those with protected characteristics.

TinyGhostWriter Fri 23-Aug-19 12:06:02

Knowledge then can be applied for understanding. Which leads to critical thinking.

That is my point though, if students are not given the opportunity to apply and make sense of content, they won’t have an opportunity to develop those critical thinking skills.

Asking young people to regurgitate reams of information doesn’t allow them to think for themselves. They don’t have opportunities to prioritise, problem solve, analyse or evaluate.

I do appreciate that it depends on the subject, but it does concern me in relation to the pupils transition into further and higher education.

NovemberWitch Fri 23-Aug-19 12:06:23

My two children have HFA and would have thrived in an environment where they could concentrate on learning and not waste enormous amounts of time and effort on merely surviving their fellow students.
And they went to a good, mainstream comprehensive with excellent results. All the distress and confusion they endured came from their peers.
I think a lot of parents have no idea how hard it is to work in an environment of low-level/high level disruption, foul language and mockery, unwanted physical contact and chaos. It’s exhausting, especially for many with SEND.

Tonnerre Fri 23-Aug-19 12:07:35

As far as I know, they do not manage out children with SEN. Read Katharine Burbalsingh's book, 'Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers' which gives much more information on this. Many SEN children make excellent progress with them, as they are freed from the label of being SEN, which can lead, in some schools, to lowered expectations of them.

There are some fairly obvious reason why I wouldn't take what is in that book as gospel. No headteacher is going to boast of managing out children with SEN. Nevertheless, if your child was in a school where they were utterly miserable due to constantly being disciplined for behaviour which is the direct result of their disability, would you want them to stay?

SchadenfreudePersonified Fri 23-Aug-19 12:08:10

All of this sounds the sort of discipline I had when I was at school (I'm 66) - I suppose in that era it was expected,..

The only thing I rebelled about was being given a detention by the maths teacher because I had a cough. Apparently it doesn't matter how sore/tickly your throats,you can control a cog=ugh (I wasn't the only one to suffer under this Draconian rule! - but it was the teacher's rather than the school's. She was a cow!

They were very strict on hair (tied back), make-up (NONE) and unoiform, too.

Labassecour Fri 23-Aug-19 12:10:58

If a school comes with an endorsement from Roger 'Fascist' Scruton, that's an immediate danger signal.

Some of this stuff seems perfectly reasonable, like computer access and homework clubs for children without access to quiet study space at home (and I like that the loos have no mirrors, and think it's helpful for girls in particular --

pragmaticreform.wordpress.com/2016/12/10/no-excuses-high-standards-high-support/

but some is just cruel. You get a day off and your homework excused for the funeral of a close family memory without a detention, but after that you're back to detentions for any missed homework, with a bit of Tibetan philosophy to help them cope with their bereavement, because the key thing is that the school doesn't lower its standards for you just because you've lost a parents, and it's important you 'stay on track'? hmm

And the time the teachers don't waste on dealing with bad behaviour sounds as if it is expended on endless 'sermons', reminders about demerits and behaviour and equipment checks multiple times a day.

This school teaches conformity and obedience and if it were any more Tory in its ethos, it would wear a large blue rosette .

GCAcademic Fri 23-Aug-19 12:12:34

Re. critical thinking. In my experience of teaching undergraduate students in a humanities department in a top 10 university, very, very few schools do well at teaching critical thinking, and it’s something we have to work intensively when students start their courses. There is always a proportion of students, for example, who we need to wean off cutting and pasting text from the internet. I agree that pupils should be taught critical thinking, but to say that Michaela is serving its pupils worse than other schools in this regard is wrong.

Tinuviel Fri 23-Aug-19 12:13:00

Would love to teach at Michaela - their foreign language learning methods sound really interesting.

Bloom's taxonomy is a brilliant diagram of learning, so long as you stick to the original triangle - with a wide base of knowledge at the bottom! When looking for a diagram I once saw an inverted version showing a tiny triangle of knowledge with everything else weighing down on it! As PP said, you can't think critically about nothing, children need a firm knowledge base to found all their higher level thinking on. And I get the impression that Michaela provides that.

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:14:07

This school teaches conformity and obedience

Which are, in general, pretty useful abilities to hold. It’s just as important to know when to set them aside, but the ability to meet the expectations of those around you is a prerequisite for most professional careers and a healthy family life.

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:15:31

There is always a proportion of students, for example, who we need to wean off cutting and pasting text from the internet. I agree that pupils should be taught critical thinking, but to say that Michaela is serving its pupils worse than other schools in this regard is wrong.

I think critical thinking is important, but it does require a wide base of knowledge to draw upon to support your conclusions.

Pangur2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:17:02

I could be wrong, but I'd imagine that on a day to day basis, very few teachers in that school actually give out demerits for kids scratching their hand etc. Once the behaviour is good, those rules are probably just there in case kids are taking the piss (everyone dropping their pen at the same time etc.)

My school in Ireland was very strict, but most of the time rules didn't really need to be enforced with punishments. I only ever got 2 detentions for chatting in class and they didn't even tell my Mam, so she thinks I got none, haha!

I personally wouldn't want to work in a school where kids can't even talk on the corridor, but I have noticed sometimes behaviour over here is all or nothing. If you give an inch behaviour bubbles up extremely quickly. I don't remember this being an issue in my Irish school and other members of staff from other countries have commented on it as well. I've only ever taught in London (in a range of schools types/ areas/ demographics) and from what I have seen there are major issues with behaviour (especially low level disruption) across the board. Parents don't seem to want to tackle this, or allow teachers to tackle it.

I think the standard of teaching over here is much better than in Ireland, but Ireland still comes out much higher internationally; I suspect this is to do with behaviour and attitudes towards school and teachers. It is much easier to learn without constant distractions and interruptions.

Xenadog Fri 23-Aug-19 12:17:44

I think Michaela sounds excellent. Having taught in tough inner city schools where kids know all their rights but none of their responsibilities Michaela sounds refreshing and well-led. Children cannot learn unless they are focused and behaving well that is the crux of education. Michaels have cracked that and I think they should be applauded.

NovemberWitch Fri 23-Aug-19 12:20:18

I think the students who struggle most in a disciplined system are the confident, spirited ones who know all of their rights, few of their responsibilities and feel their voice and opinions should be top priority for all. The ones who know that misdemeanours are not targeted, and that have a very clear understanding of what the rules are and what they can get away with.

Userzzzzz Fri 23-Aug-19 12:20:31

They must be doing something right and those results are good. My views on rote learning changed at university. I did a language ab initio and we got to a high standard quickly using traditional methods like rote learning. I spent years at school fannying around in French and reached a higher standard in 6 weeks at university (obviously with an element of self selection by ability) than I did in school in 5 years.

SchadenfreudePersonified Fri 23-Aug-19 12:24:21

There is always a proportion of students, for example, who we need to wean off cutting and pasting text from the internet

Some of them do this all through uni, too - believe me, I was a lecturer and clinical educator at a prestigious university. It's a bugger to get them out of.

Oliversmumsarmy Fri 23-Aug-19 12:26:04

CassianAndor

In answer to your question about how pupils get on when they get to uni. My friends DD is struggling.

When I was at primary school the school dinners were similar to this set up.

We had to eat what we were given.

It resulted in me being caned across the hand at least 2 or 3 times per week.

The dinner ladies would tell me that when I was older I would think of myself as foolish for not liking mushy peas or green beans or cottage pie, or liver or on the Christmas Lunch, Christmas pudding
Before they sent me to the headmaster to be caned. Most of my mornings at school would be taken up with worrying what I was going to be served at lunch
l cannot stand the smell or taste of those foods.

I would never send my DC to a place where they would repeat that bit of my childhood

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:26:04

but some is just cruel. You get a day off and your homework excused for the funeral of a close family memory without a detention, but after that you're back to detentions for any missed homework, with a bit of Tibetan philosophy to help them cope with their bereavement, because the key thing is that the school doesn't lower its standards for you just because you've lost a parents, and it's important you 'stay on track'? hmm

I’m torn on this, but I think the intent is kindness, not cruelty. A girl in my last school lost a parent, and from that moment on, it was the excuse for everything. No homework? Her mum died. Disrupting others in class? Her mum died? Called the teacher a cunt? Her mum died.

However much compassion I have for her, she is now a school leaver with no mum AND and no GCSEs. In trying to be kind, the people responsible for her education let her down.

SignedUpJust4This Fri 23-Aug-19 12:26:21

No point having critical thinkers if they don't have the ability to retrieve subject knowledge required for the question or the self discipline to study. Previously many students were giving up because they found everything too hard not having that basic subject knowledge at hand. Now they have that they are engaged and motivated by their success and are able to start the critical thinking. I don't think discipline means students cant be creative, critical thinkers. That's nonsense. I don't know why we expect this behaviour from kids at Harrow yet think it's beyond the capabilities of your average student. We let our students down by not having high expectations of them. Students in the most deprived areas need discipline and structure more than anyone else. The majority rise to it. The minority need something else. But they were being let down before too so nothing's changed there.

Labassecour Fri 23-Aug-19 12:30:52

I could be wrong, but I'd imagine that on a day to day basis, very few teachers in that school actually give out demerits for kids scratching their hand etc.

The link I gave upthread specifically says that how many demerits each teacher gives out is carefully monitored in order to ensure that some teachers aren't implementing the rules more strictly than others, so I imagine teachers are subject to very similar conformist rules to the pupils, with consequences for over- or under-punishing.

Interesting point about differences in the education systems in Ireland and the UK, @Pangur2.

I think Michaela's is a thoroughly repellent system.

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:31:53

The link I gave upthread specifically says that how many demerits each teacher gives out is carefully monitored in order to ensure that some teachers aren't implementing the rules more strictly than others, so I imagine teachers are subject to very similar conformist rules to the pupils, with consequences for over- or under-punishing.

It is actually really important that the rules are enforced consistently, though. They make no secret of the behaviour policy, so if you don’t like it, don’t work there. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Oliversmumsarmy Fri 23-Aug-19 12:35:54

You get a day off and your homework excused for the funeral of a close family memory without a detention, but after that you're back to detentions for any missed homework

Do you get a day off and excused from homework on the day a parent dies or is it just on the day of the funeral.

I suspect that it is very black and white but the world is shades of grey

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:37:16

Tom Bennett’s excellent book on behaviour management includes these sentences: “u have genuinely seen teachers who think that getting the class to do what they want isn’t part of what they signed up for... If you’re not comfortable controlling others, then leave the room, the book shop, whatever. Put this book down. Run, don’t walk out of education.”

👍

herculepoirot2 Fri 23-Aug-19 12:37:37

*I not u

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