Behaviour and Discipline

In School T the Head teacher avoided disciplining the students. He saw his job as being largely administrative, and felt that discipline should be left solely to Heads of Year. He did not have anybody else in his senior team, whose authority students respected. His office door was closed most of the time, and many students did not know who he was. Treatment of misbehaviour was inconsistent. In Maths, students received a detention from the Head of Department, whom they respected, so they generally behaved. In Art,however, they would receive a quiet word from the Deputy Head of Department whom they did not respect. In the majority of classes, students who misbehaved got more attention; a minority intimidated the teacher and the other students. Therefore standards were inconsistent. There was no clear referral system which the students and staff trusted; and there was no ‘bottom line’ member of the senior team, with whom the buck stopped.

The school got a new Head teacher, whose forte was pupil discipline. On the first day of her appointment, she got out and about, and showed the students who was boss. She set up a very clear system of referral, so all misdemeanours carried a clear punishment, and she was the ultimate discipline enforcer. Children saw that if their peers crossed a boundary, something happened. Although the Head teacher rarely raised her voice, the students respected her; and dreaded being referred to her. Behaviour improved dramatically in the school. The vast majority of students were on task and prioritising learning.


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