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Whole-class punishment - AIBU or is this really unfair?

(26 Posts)
spiderlight Wed 26-Nov-14 10:13:11

I'm not brave enough for AIBU with this one but I'd appreciate some opinions before I say something to the school. DS is 7 and in Y3, but is currently in a mixed Y3/Y4 class. He's your typical 'good boy' at school - all his teachers have always been full of praise for his beautiful behaviour and he works really hard. His class teacher is currently off sick, possibly long term, and they've had a supply teacher for the past two weeks who several children have corroborated to be extremely strict and shouty. One particular aspect of her approach is really bothering me: if one child misbehaves, she punishes the entire class. This week so far, DS has come home upset twice over this - on Monday, one Y4 child (known to be one of the more boisterous lads, shall we say) was talking when they were lining up for PE. He was warned once, and when he talked again, the entire class was banned from doing PE and instead spent the lesson 'practising lining up quietly' in the corridor. Then yesterday, a different Y4 child bounced a ball as they were getting ready to go out to play, and the teacher immediately and without warning banned them all from playing football, took all the balls from the entire class, locked them away and came onto the playground to make sure that none of them played football at playime and at lunchtime. DS swears that all the other children were lining up quietly on both occasions, which I believe because they are all frankly terrified of this teacher. I'm going to speak to some of the other mums at home time to corroborate this version of events, but I feel that it's very unfair on the rest of the class to be punished for something over which they have no control, and that this approach is ultimately counterproductive - what incentive do they have for behaving well if they're going to be punished anyway?

Am I going to look like 'that parent' if I contact the Head about this, though? I've never complained about anything at the school so far but the unfairness of these punishments has really got to me.

Emstheword Wed 26-Nov-14 10:26:05

It's usually policy to contact the teacher in question first and only go to the head if you're not happy with the teacher's response. So I would approach the teacher and ask what happened first....there may be more to what happened than your DS is telling you. But if there aren't extenuating circumstances, it does sound like unreasonable punishment.

spiderlight Wed 26-Nov-14 10:30:00

Eeeek - don't want to do that, she's too scary!!

TheRealMaryMillington Wed 26-Nov-14 10:34:46

Check with other parents first
Then have quiet word with the teacher - just reflect how upsetting your DS is finding being repeatedly punished for the actions of others, but be prepared to listen to her reasoning.
I never worry about being "that parent" on the basis that if the issue is sufficient to upset my kids or me then it's probably also upsetting others.
Don't go to the head - not fair

Emstheword Wed 26-Nov-14 10:37:00

grin she sounds pretty scary, but you have to woman up in this case I'm afraid

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 26-Nov-14 10:38:20

What is she realistically going to do or say to you?

Emstheword Wed 26-Nov-14 10:45:59

Ask another mum to go with you if she's really that ferocious smile

MrsItsNoworNotatAll Wed 26-Nov-14 10:46:29

One of dd1's previous teachers had a reputation as a shouty, evil old pisswitch that no one, parents or pupils, liked. There was a lot of 'ooh wait till you meet Mrs L!' Well I thought Yeah well I'm MrsNow and she's not met me' I am not a confrontational person at all but dd1 was having a few problems so I had to approach this Teacher with them. She couldn't have been nicer and more helpful. What I'm trying in a roundabout why is she might look and sound scary but she probably isn't and you won't know till you speak to her.

APlaceInTheWinter Wed 26-Nov-14 10:48:13

I'm shock that she banned them from PE. Considering Ofsted's comments on PE provision, I wasn't aware a teacher could just opt out of PE classes because of their preferred punishment style.

I think you have to speak to the teacher first (if she is incredibly scary then take another parent with you for support!) grin Say you're concerned because DS doesn't usually get into trouble so you want to know if his behaviour has deteriorated as he seems to be getting punished.

If the teacher confirms your DS's story ie that she punishes everyone when one DC misbehaves then I think you could have a word with the Head Teacher. The HT may not be aware that whole class punishments are being meted out and that the DCs have missed PE. I think if you confront the teacher about their style of discipline then they will just get defensive so I'd leave it to the HT to determine if they think it's appropriate or not.

SunnyBaudelaire Wed 26-Nov-14 10:48:21

It does sound unfair but then life is not 'fair' and they might as well learn that tbh.

smileybadger Wed 26-Nov-14 10:53:37

I totally hate the whole class punishments all it does is send out the message behave..get punished ..dont behave ..get punished..wheres the incentive?

Hakluyt Wed 26-Nov-14 10:57:43

This is not considered good practise. You should talk to the teacher about it, bearing in mind that a 7 yeqr old'"spending the whole time practising lining up quietly" may well be "going back and lining up quietly once before we do PE"

And the football ban may be the culmination of weeks of football related hassle. Football causes more playground hassle than anything else.

Or sh might be an evil witch. In which case, cut her off at the knees. But get your facts straight first.

spiderlight Wed 26-Nov-14 10:58:46

APlaceInTheWinter That sounds like a good approach. Thank you. I'll speak to some other parents first though to see what their kids have said.

Hopefully the regular class teacher will be back soon anyway....

spiderlight Wed 26-Nov-14 11:03:53

Hakluyt They definitely didn't do PE - I know this because he came out tidy, with his polo shirt buttons still done up and his jumper the right way round, whereas he usually comes out on a PE day looking as if he got dressed in the dark with oven gloves on, and quite often in somebody else's trousers! I know what you mean about football but it's actually quite well policed at our school, at least in the Junior yard (Infants was another story...) and all the other classes were still allowed to play. But I shall go on a fact-finding mission before I say anything.

sparklecrates Wed 26-Nov-14 11:07:02

Dont complain! All the parents will have to stand with books on their heads or something!

Hakluyt Wed 26-Nov-14 11:07:08

grin I recognise that post PE look! My 13 year old and his friends now take their games tops off and just put their blazers on and come out looking disconcertingly like junior Chippendales......

grumpyoldgitagain Wed 26-Nov-14 11:13:15

I think the theory behind whole class punishment is that peer pressure from all of the good kids on the bad ones makes then behave

But I don't agree with it personally and missing PE as far as my girls are concerned would be a reward not punishment as they both hate it, but it is part of the curriculum and not doing the lesson was wrong so she should be challenged on that point alone

spiderlight Wed 26-Nov-14 11:13:56

grin grin grin sparklecrates!

Unexpected Wed 26-Nov-14 12:14:29

I never liked the idea of whole class punishments and I would be particularly unhappy about a supply teacher implementing it. After two weeks, she has no real idea of the class dynamics and giving the whole class a punishment because of the behaviour of one child is counter-productive. Suppose this is the child who never sits still and is constantly, and I mean constantly, talking? A whole-class punishment in that instance is completely ineffective and actually counterproductive because it turns the whole class against her. I am also amazed that a teacher could think that missing PE at that age is reasonable or likely to result in anything other than the entire class bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day.

I agree you should usually approach the teacher but in this case I would probably bypass her and go to the Head. Supply teacher may know she only has another week or whatever and could just postpone meeting or react badly because she's got nothing to lose. If she's that shouty, school won't have her back in future anyway.

DeWee Wed 26-Nov-14 13:47:55

I have had the "only one child moved their little finger a tiny bit and then...." from my dc. Lets just say that I know from reliable reports that was true.

The other 29 were being a pain, that was the "good child". grin

diamondage Wed 26-Nov-14 14:08:06

Whole class punishments - there's a thought.

If people witness a robbery, mugging, rape or murder let's just throw them in jail along with the culprits Just think, before long there would be far fewer people wandering around and those that were left could take on that vigilante role to ensure that any wrong doing is nipped in the bud.

Capitol idea that ... not.

diamondage Wed 26-Nov-14 14:15:28

Tch, it's not a capital idea either.

JennyBlueWren Wed 26-Nov-14 19:15:59

I was once that teacher! Well not as bad as that but I did use whole class punishments before I realised how ineffective and unfair they were. It sounds like she has a difficult time managing behaviour if she's having to resort to shouting.

I have taken classes back to line up again but not for only one child talking -that would warrant an individual chat and practise at breaktime- but when there's been general chatter and nonsense in line. We've missed out on PE time due to children not getting changed quickly (and yes there are some who are ready super quickly and I feel for them!) or because I've been waiting for them to be quiet and lined up.

I'd speak to the teacher but (esp as they're supply) also talk to the HT. Also have a chat to your son about you knowing it's not his fault and how sometimes we have to go through things we don't like but can still be happy.

Viviennemary Wed 26-Nov-14 19:20:11

I can see why you think the punishment is unfair. However, peer pressure to behave is quite strong so perhaps that's what the teacher is aiming for. TBH I'd rather have an overstrict teacher than somebody the kids ran rings round. Still there is a happy medium.

pointlesslonging Thu 27-Nov-14 00:53:42

There is a persistent group of misbehaving children in my son's class (also Y3). One teacher seems to struggle to deal with them, and last week sent the whole class outside because two boys were messing around.
My son told me he went up to the teacher and said he didn't think it was fair that he should be punished as he hadn't been talking, and the teacher then called back in all the children who hadn't been misbehaving. Apparently he hasn't done a whole class punishment since. I'm really proud of my son and pleased that the teacher was so responsive.

I don't buy the life is unjust argument. Schools could help life be less unjust by modelling good practice.

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