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Teaching Sense

November 13, 2008

I caught on this story the other morning, a head teacher who has undertaken(temporarily) 478 exclusions in one year, for a school with 1880 pupils. The reporting has been slightly negative and sensationalist but it has raised some interesting points.

  1. The head teacher has permanently excluded only 2 pupils in the year, which for a school of that size is pretty ordinary.
  2. General behaviour has improved and the effect of poor behaviour on others has been massively reduced, as shown by the increases in pass rates.
  3. The policy is described as a zero tolerance approach, stated in a somewhat negative way – as if it is a swearword, and not actually what is practised by the Head Mistress (multiple chances are given through until ultimate sanction, for simple errors to not impact someone, and for corrective action to easily be taken).

My own view is that this is that zero tolerance is not a great word for what is being done. I would put it that the policies of the school are enforcing the concept of consequences onto the pupils, something that seems to be be lacking with many people. The consequences of poor behaviour is that you are directly and immediately effected on a sliding scale until the ultimate sanction is applied. This approach should be lauded, and expanded to other schools and not denigrated as it seems from the many reports about it. Certainly current policies that penalise schools with high exclusion rates (but low permanent exclusions and improving results) should be be investigated and changed.

An understanding and acceptance of the consequences of their actions is something I see lacking everyday, particularly in my professional life.

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