Education Act - Power to Punish - whole class punishment(17 Posts)
I am in the middle of dealing with my child's school about punishing innocent children as they frequently take time off play and time off art and PE for some of the class misbehaving. My child is getting mighty fed up and it is affecting her confidence as she hardly ever sets a foot wrong and still gets shouted at and misses lessons she would like to do.
I have read the other threads on here but I can't seem to find the 'official' i.e. Ofsted, Dept for Education position on this...written down.
From what I have read (Education Act), a teacher's 'power to punish' applies if the pupil has actually done something wrong. Implied from this, if a pupil has not done anything wrong then they would not have the statutory authority to punish.
Is this correct?
Alot of schools take this stance now. The idea is that the idiots who are ruining it will then come under pressure by the rest of th class who are suffering on their behalf. Doubt it makes them feel guilty, or even works tbh.
It feels unjust and a bit lazy to me to punish a whole class for the misdemeanours of a minority. It's possible I suppose that peer pressure may have some effect on behaviour but I imagine it would just feel grossly unfair and the danger could be that it could generate an attitude of "well if we're just going to be punished anyway we might as well do x/y/z." As a parent of more than one child it's not a strategy that would work at home and I can't imagine as adults we would tolerate this kind of justice system. Personal responsibility is an important value for children to learn and I can't imagine this teaches it. I'm not a teacher but I can't imagine that this is a good model to follow. I haven't read anything about the legalities of this, but creating a sense of injustice amongst a group of children sounds like a recipe for disaster...
I was taught on my PGCE that it was bad practice. I don't remember being told that it was illegal - just very unlikely to do much apart from lower the pupil's opinion of your teaching skills.
I agree that it's poor teaching. I class I was in as a kid demonstrated this to a poor student teacher once by responding to his fussiness and insistence that any noise would take 1 minute off play time by just being constantly noisy - he got up to about 45 minutes off a 15 minute break before admitting defeat. Any chance you could plant this idea?
More seriously I'd ask the school what their policy is, and if it is to allow it I'd politely take it up with the head or governors as punishing the innocent isn't exactly the sort of message you want authority figures to be demonstrating.
We're not allowed to do these at my school, and the message that is being given, is that subjects are less important which is incorrect.
I'd somehow missed that they are taking time off art and PE as punishment. That is awful, as Coffeetrrunk says.
My brother used to love it when the class was told that if they didn't finish their work they'd have to finish it instead of doing PE - it was an easy way to get out of PE.
So not only are they diminishing the standing of some subjects - and by extension implying that other subjects are not enjoyable - and not only are they punishing the innocent - they are also punishing some more than others.
I posted on something similar yesterday - my dd hated one year at school as the teacher was using this technique. Teacher was keeping in tables rather than whole class. Next year no need as confident teacher didn't have same behaviour issues.
DS's last school used missing PE and breaktimes as a whole class punishment for bad behaviour. The really stupid thing about the policy was that had some of the boys causing the nuisance had a proper chance to run around and burn off some energy, they would probably have been a lot calmer in class.
When aah were young it were extra cross country in the snow for bad behaviour (up a mountain with no shoes etc. etc.).
It is simply not done by those who know how to deal with bad behaviour. It is very lazy.
However, if you have a particularly bad class (I once did), it is very hard to determine who the 'trouble makers' are especially lots of 'low level' stuff and the temptation is there at times when you are tired and stressed. It isn't an excuse but it can happen. Afterall, teachers are human and we all make misktakes whether it is in our personal life or professional.
I used to keep a written log of names of those who were disrupting. When it got to three, they missed their break time and spent it being 'lectured' on the importance of listening and respect with them filling in a reflection form. After many breaks lost, it worked. They got fed up with my nagging and having to write down the same stuff over and over again.
I encountered this some years ago with my daughters. An inexperienced teacher began using whole class punishments. The last straw was having them stand still outside in flimsy PE kit in January on the playground for the whole lesson for "being too noisy". When I asked for reassurance there would not be a repeat of this particular punishment, I was told she had "not decided yet". I took them home at the end of the school day and we never returned.
I didn't realise this lazy teaching practice was rearing it's ugly head again. Also great for causing ill feeling and resentment amongst the whole class and destroying all sense of school community. The school went into special measures the same year.
The official stance is that Heads and governing bodies must ensure they have a strong behaviour policy to support staff in managing behaviour, including the use of rewards and sanctions which will vary from school to school
This happens in my DSs school. He is so well behaved at school and loves rules so would never dream of breaking them. The whole class were always being punished for the actions of a few and he was getting so frustrated and demotivated. It was having no impact of the naughty ones who didnt care what the other kids thought, and nor did their parents. I have since removed DS from the school as it was getting so disruptive
Isn't PE a national curriculum subject? Children are by law entitled to the full national curriculum, so punishments which prevent this may be unlawful.
School should not be taking time off lessons for poor behaviour, especially PE with increasing obesity! Ask if the teacher would take time off maths and if not, why it was acceptable for other subjects, simply because the children enjoy them.
A lot of schools do Golden Time on Friday afternoons and time is removed from that for poor behaviour without affecting the curriculum, although usually as an individual punishment not whole class.
Whole class punishments are a crap behavioural management technique, suggest that the teacher goes on a course to learn more effective strategies.
To answer the original question about the law, discipline is governed by the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 S61. This gives the head teacher wide ranging powers to enforce discipline provided they do so in accordance with principles laid down by the governors. Whole class punishments are therefore legal unless the governors have explicitly ruled them out. Whether or not they are a good idea is another matter.
nennypops - Reducing the time a class has for PE is not a breach of the NC. The NC specifies targets to be achieved, not the amount of time to be spent on each subject. Punishing children by taking them out of PE is perfectly legal.
I don't use it. It's ineffective, and there's always one or two who would take it as a personal challenge. Besides, PE is the only prep time I get during the week, so no way they're missing that!
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