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Detention. How effective is it as a means of improving pupil behaviour?

(12 Posts)
Anonnynonny Wed 26-Nov-14 15:10:39

Is there any research out there? Does anyone know?

Sparklingbrook Wed 26-Nov-14 15:17:09

Why do you want to know?

AuntieStella Wed 26-Nov-14 15:19:55

Detention is but one sanction within an entire behaviour policy. I'm not sure how far it can be considered in isolation. Especially as there are several types.

Anonnynonny Wed 26-Nov-14 15:58:57

Because my DD's school have just introduced a detention policy of giving 10 minutes detention for minor infringements going up to an hour (on the same day without notice to parents). Which has resulted in lots of kids who last year got no detentions, getting lots in the last few weeks.

I went to 2 schools when I was young, one which had a similar policy where the behaviour (and academic results) were bloody awful, and one which had detention as a nuclear option, where you really knew you'd crossed a line if you got one (only 3 kids in my year ever did as far as I remember in all the time I was there) and behaviour and results were excellent.

But I'm a sample size of one, so not reliable. I wondered if there had actually been studies on this and how it would be monitored. Is it actually effective? I have a bad feeling about schools which do detention for tiny infractions (and for mistakes) because the school I went to which did this was crap, but that doesn't mean that my bad feeling is justified. I wondered if there's actually any evidence.

trinity0097 Wed 26-Nov-14 20:33:17

I once had a chat with a girl in an after-school detention she was in for my subject. She said that having a detention was no disincentive for behaving the way she did. The only thing she said would make her toe the line was corporal punishment, of course we are not allowed to do this!

s113 Wed 26-Nov-14 21:01:59

"Detention" can mean many things; staying in five minutes of lunch, or all of lunch, or after school; it can be immediate, or it can only be arranged in advance. All of these things could make a big difference to how it is perceived by the teenager.

When I was at school, it wasn't so much detention itself which was a deterrent to me (I was only ever detained for not doing homework).

It was having to get my parents to sign a form!

Anonnynonny Wed 26-Nov-14 21:10:35

Yes that's the problem, no signing of forms, so detention has become normal and it seems to me, no particular disincentive.

The way my DD's school works is that they give you 10 minutes for some minor infraction or other, then they can add 10 minutes for another one later on, up to an hour.

Problem is that once you've earned 10 minutes, you've missed your train and the next one isn't for 20 minutes, so you might as well get another 10 - it's warmer in school than at a train station, so no incentive to behave properly.

I think that's called the law of unintended consequences. hmm Apparently it's kicked in.

thatsmyname123 Wed 26-Nov-14 21:11:17

As a teacher, senior level, I would say detentions are next to useless for the majority of pupils, in most cases, they either don't care or don't turn up. If a pupil does something to warrant a detention, they need a one to one discussion on why they were given it, why it is fair that they were given it and how they will avoid a repeat of the situation. Too often, a child is just left to sit in silence for x minutes-pointless, teenagers like a good silent sulk too much for this to be effective. Sadly, teachers don't have the time to do this in all cases so pointless "silent" detentions are doled out with no real value other than building resentment

TheAlias Wed 26-Nov-14 21:24:49

When I was at school the worst thing about detention was having to tell my parents I'd got detention.

The detentions themselves were pointless IMO but the fact that I couldn't get away without telling my parents if I got an after school one certainly encouraged me to behave.

s113 Wed 26-Nov-14 21:28:48

Thinking about "detention" when I was at school, it was highly organised: 45 minutes after school, one particular day of the week, with the added humiliation of getting signatures from various people, including parents. In the majority of cases, the task set was whatever homework had been done badly or not at all.

However, it was known that for other offences (e.g. rudeness) that the task given was to write out the school rules (four pages of them). I'm not sure what purpose this really served.

There was also Saturday detention, for "very serious" offences, or for three detentions in one term. The teachers were on a rota to supervise this; it was well-known that most of them hated doing it.

Anonnynonny Wed 26-Nov-14 22:27:39

Yes I'm inclined to think they should be kept for serious misdemeanours and also that the kid's time should be wasted but usefully employed IYSWIM - like getting them to write an essay on recycling or - OMG I've just remembered the girls who got detention at my school - "the inside of a ping pong ball". They had to write a minimum amount of words, I can't remember how many. grin

SonorousBip Thu 27-Nov-14 08:56:41

s113 - that is exactly the same regime in DS's school. Interestingly he is so worried about getting a detention I would say it has a huge deterrent effect. Saturday detentions are talked about in hushed tones! I suspect once he gets one he will realise its not all that bad.

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