Parents slam school over plans to introduce litter picking 'community service' for badly behaved pupils
Punishment has changed a lot in schools over the years. There was a point where it was perfectly acceptable to hit students - something that many teachers and parents consented to across the globe. Now, that seems way out of line to some (19 US states still rule corporal punishment to be lawful) - but that doesn't mean that we've figured everything out either.
Most schools have some sort of warning system in place, in which repeated offences receive the worst punishment. But one school, in Newcastle, UK, is doing it a bit differently.
Kenton School, which is the largest secondary school in the UK, has made a proposal that could see children doing "community service" for their bad behaviour. A letter was sent to parents detailing the proposed changes - a seven-stage behaviour policy.
First of all, pupils will receive warnings, but when they ignore these warnings, they can be expected to spend time in the 'reflection room' - a place where they are left to think about what they have done. Beyond that, students will be given a half an hour detention in the evening - but if they don't turn up a 'C5' will be issued: a whole school detention.
That's when the offending student is given a choice: go through with the C5, or have it cancelled by undertaking 30 minutes of community service at lunchtime, with tasks including litter picking or assisting the canteen staff with clearing the lunch area. During this service, students will be given a "green hi viz bib" to wear - but some parents aren't happy about it.
Some have said that they believe the proposed changes could cause anxiety problems in the students. One anonymous mother explained to the Newcastle Chronicle:
"I don't like the idea of my kid having to wear a bright green bib.
"If they do something wrong then fine, punish them, but that just seems like humiliation to me and could cause mental health and anxiety problems."
A consultation process is now in place at the school, in which parents have been asked to give their (and their children's) feedback on the proposal.
According to the Newcastle Chronicle, Principal Sarah Holmes-Carne said:
"We are extremely receptive to all views and would encourage parents to contact the school accordingly if they have any suggestions or concerns.
"We are hoping to use this feedback to inform some changes to our behaviour policy, one aspect of which is to encourage constructive sanctions that support the school community and maintain the very high standards of positive behaviour we expect from our students."
Earlier this year, proposals such as this were endorsed by Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman. "I think it's entirely appropriate to use sanctions," she said, "such as writing lines; 'community service' in the school grounds, such as picking up litter; and school detentions."
While some parents seem to be against it, it seems that that this service would both be a punishment students would want to avoid and a good use of their time.