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Internal exclusion as punishment for a mistake

(51 Posts)
JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 18:57:08

DD, Yr 9, is being punished by being put in the school's exclusion room because she brought in some scissors that the school said were not appropriate because they were too sharp. She had no idea there was anything wrong with them. At worst she made a mistake, at best she did nothing wrong. I think the school wants to show a kind of 'zero tolerance' policy, but is it fair to exclude her - even if it is 'only' an internal exclusion - for two weeks?

Lilly948204 Tue 12-Jul-16 19:01:45

Two weeks seems excessive. Why was she taking scissors into school? How did they become highlighted as an issue?

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 19:22:20

Most kids take scissors in to use in class and teachers will ask them to get their scissors out if they are cutting paper in lessons. DD has always had some in her pencil case. Hers were broken in half by some other children (dd had no idea they had got hold of them and still doesn't know if they just found them or stole them), and in a breaktime they handed one half back to her and then called a supervisor to say dd had a knife. Because these were craft scissors (used for snipping threads in sewing) they looked really bad when they'd been broken in two. She went straight to her head of year, very distressed. After an investigation I was called to a meeting where they said they had decided not to permanently exclude her but to give her two weeks' internal exclusion. I am certain they believe dd never had any intention to break any rules - she was using the scissors in class before the other kids got hold of them, and reported what had happened. In the meeting they said they have to 'hold the line' with regard to issues around blades and knives even if she didn't actually bring a blade or a knife in. The school has now banned all kids from bring in scissors.

NatalieRushman Tue 12-Jul-16 19:26:04

That sounds absolutely ridiculous. I would contact the school to say that the punishment should fit the crime - and there wasn't even a crime. They were allowed to bring scissors in, and it was the other children in the class who had broken her scissors.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 19:31:47

Thanks for the comments - I spent an hour arguing in every way I could against the punishment at the meeting, but to no avail. They just kept saying they have to 'hold the line'. I have a meeting with the head teacher on Thursday to appeal again - I wonder what on earth else I can add to what I've said already.

GinandJag Tue 12-Jul-16 19:32:16

It's a major hassle for school to have students in internal inclusion. It's not done lightly. It's not done for an innocent oversight by a student.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 19:40:01

Thanks GinandJag, that is what I thought until this happened. As I said, the scissors were sharper than usual scissors because they were craft scissors - they think dd should have been aware that they were inappropriate but the truth is it never occurred to her. Which is why I think it is fair to describe it as an innocent mistake. Even some of her teachers have said they think the punishment is too much. Today there were 11 people in her ER btw.

Decorhate Tue 12-Jul-16 19:57:36

It sounds excessive the way you tell it - my dcs have to have scissors in their pencil case & it has never been specified what type.

I'm trying to remember what length of exclusion was given in my school to a child who stole a craft knife & was waving it about, perhaps 3 days I think.

Have you checked the school's behaviour policy? Two weeks seems very long

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 20:06:35

Decorhate, the school says that they are always telling the kids not to bring in sharp things so she should have known these scissors were not appropriate - they had a big assembly recently where the police spoke to them about this too. Trouble is, when they said 'don't bring in sharp objects' she heard 'don't bring in knives or blades or screwdrivers', not don't bring in sharp scissors. They say she should have known better.

Decorhate Tue 12-Jul-16 20:10:38

Personally I wouldn't have expected the ban to include scissors either. Unless scissors were specifically mentioned somewhere. I'd consider writing to the governors asking them to look at the incident & punishment versus their behaviour policy

BusStopBetty Tue 12-Jul-16 20:15:17

Unless they specified what type of scissors were acceptable (e.g. Round ended only) then that's batshit and a complete overreaction.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 20:15:32

I did wonder about contacting the governors but won't that take ages? It's almost the end of term, dd has already done 5 days, and when I meet the head on Thursday she'll have been excluded for 7 days.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 20:22:42

BusStopBetty, they never specified a type of scissors. In the meeting they said 'this is what we mean by scissors' and got out a pair of rounded end scissors. But that had never been spelled out before.

Lilly948204 Tue 12-Jul-16 20:41:02

Sorry if my questions seemed a bit abrupt. It's really confusing because the school sounds like it has issues with knifes/sharp objects (I work in a secondary school and we haven't had any issues with knifes or anything like this, assembly's etc) and therefore I can understand them having a very tough line on this (they can't have one rule for some kids and a different rule for another.) Having said that I don't know why they have allowed kids to bring scissors in if they have had these issues.

To me it sounds like these other children have tried their best to get your daughter in trouble. I do think it is really harsh for her to be in exclusion for two weeks - however I can understand why they can't change the rules for your daughter.

Decorhate Tue 12-Jul-16 20:45:14

It's the two weeks that seems excessive to me. Can understand needing to treat everyone the same etc. That's why I suggested checking the policy. Should be on their website

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 21:13:52

Thanks Lilly and Decorhate for your comments. I have looked for a behaviour policy on the school website but can't find one. If two weeks exclusion is standard for a mistake relating to sharp objects (even if 'innocently' or mistakenly brought in) then it will be easier to understand. And yes, the other children were trying to get dd into trouble, and two of them are in the exclusion room too, also for two weeks. I will contact the school before my meeting with the head to ask for a copy of the behaviour policy. Apart from that I guess all I can do is hope that she feels the punishment has been enough.

Decorhate Tue 12-Jul-16 21:25:38

I'm pretty sure it's an Ofsted requirement to have certain policies, including the behaviour policy, on the website.

Decorhate Tue 12-Jul-16 21:31:23

Though I've checked a couple of schools in my area & being in possession of an offensive weapon (which can be a scissors or compass used in a threatening manner) could lead to a permanent exclusion.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 21:35:47

I've had another look on the website and there is a dead link to the behaviour policy. I'll ring tomorrow and ask for a copy to be sent, as it clearly must exist.

HSMMaCM Tue 12-Jul-16 21:41:58

A teacher at DD's school was stabbed with a pair of scissors. Maybe they've had a similar incident, so they're more strict. I'd be VERY surprised if the children didn't know the rules though.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 21:49:14

Decorhate, thanks for looking things up. That is really kind. I'd expect that more or less anything used in a threatening manner would lead to a punishment. But these scissors were brought in (and actually used) for the intended purpose. It's not really relevant, but she's pretty well behaved (apart from having her mobile phone confiscated a couple of times). The hardest thing about this is explaining to DD why she is being punished this severely for a mistake, especially as they know she is never any trouble. If I can show her a policy then that would help her as, like me, she just can't understand why the punishment is so harsh. Even when they knew she'd not done anything on purpose they still told us that they had considered permanently excluding her for this - I know dd feels quite badly betrayed in a way by the school and I have to say I sympathise.

JQLine55 Tue 12-Jul-16 21:56:07

HSMMaCM, that's the trouble, there was no rule except for one about not bringing in sharp objects (but scissors were not included in that otherwise they'd have to exclude at least three quarters of all the children). It was left to each child to interpret what that meant through the filter of their own experience. My dd assumed it meant weapons, and had never thought of scissors as weapons. They were so busy talking about blades and screwdrivers they obviously overlooked that children don't all automatically see more household objects as dangerous.

t4gnut Wed 13-Jul-16 11:52:09

Technically she had on her person an offensive weapon - how that came to be there and why doesn't remove that fact. The school would have been perfectly within its rights to move straight to exclusion - possibly permanent - because possession of an offensive weapon onsite is that serious.

However it seems they recognise there is mitigation and a reason and internal exclusion is a sufficiently strong message to send out. 2 weeks though is perhaps excessive.

admission Wed 13-Jul-16 13:13:19

You need to start this from the school's point of view. By having a single blade, which you accept is sharp then that is an offensive weapon and certainly in my secondary school that would be a permanent exclusion. The school obviously recognise that this was not a deliberate act to bring in an offensive weapon in that they have not applied that punishment.

The bit that is rather confusing to me, is the exact way that this was discovered. The way that you have reported it suggests that other pupils reported the "blade" being in your daughter's possession. To me there are only two alternatives here, you daughter had this single blade, it got shown to others and somebody quite rightly reported it. In which case 2 weeks in seclusion is probably a low punishment - your daughter knew that there was a blade. The other alternative is somebody deliberately engineered the situation and then "grassed up" your daughter. In this instance you are saying that daughter went to the head of year, so was that after or before she was "grassed up" ? Did she go to the head of year to report the blade or report the scissors having been broken and handed back to her?
Given that 2 weeks in seclusion is quite a sever punishment but not as severe as it could have been, I suspect that the school think there is more to this than your daughter being completely innocent you suggest but cannot prove it. Whilst you do need to follow this up with the head teacher I think you need to have a further talk with your daughter to try and get to the bottom of why she believes the other pupils involved both deliberately broke the scissors (no easy feat I might) and secondly then "grassed her" up, there has to be more to this than you are being told. And that might mean your daughter is more at fault than you current think or it might be that there is a much more severe problem at school than daughter is owning up to.

purplevase4 Wed 13-Jul-16 19:10:07

Scissors brought in at the schools's request are not an offensive weapon. This is ludicrous. Complain to governors in strongest terms. Then if there was more to it, you'll find out and can respond accordingly. And if not, it won't undo the punishment but a note will be put on your daughter's file and she should at least receive an apology.

Schools do make mistakes and the investigations they carry out are often totally inadequate and allow for collusion by other kids.

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