Discussion Forum

Calder High Discipline Policy

From Stephen Ball, Head Teacher
Thursday, September 21, 2006

I was sorry to see that the school's new policy "Behaviour for Learning" has been so misrepresented in a public forum.

Our intention is to create a calm and orderly environment in which all of our young people can learn and flourish and in which teaching is not interrupted by inappropriate behaviour.

The policy is based on rewards and we have invested several thousand pounds on providing worthwhile incentives for all of those young people who work hard and who act as responsible citizens. In fact, as I walk around school I am having far more conversations with students about the number of "commendations" they have received than any other topic.

Our intention is to create a climate that is rich in praise and which celebrates the work of the overwhelming majority. We are liucky to have so many fine young people here.

We have also introduced a very clear set of consequences for poor behaviour. They are known by all and we strive to apply them consistently. Students can only find themselves in a detention if they decide to make a bad choice. By choosing not to live up to our expectations and to break a rule they choose the consequence that corresponds to their action.

During the first weeks of the term there has been a significant and very positive change in the school. Students arrive on time and they bring their equipment with them and consequently teachers are not wasting time providing it. Universally teachers are saying that everyone will benefit from the clarity and the calmness that we are now experiencing.

I have no doubt that the greatest beneficiaries of the system will be our students who will all have the opportunity to fulfil their potential. Their learning will not be undermined by the behaviour of a small minority. In the fullness of time I believe they will all have good reason to be grateful to my colleagues who have given up so much of their time to develop an approach to behaviour mangement.

Our aspiration is to create an exceptional school for all of the young people of the area. This is an important step on our journey.

Posted by Rev Tony Buglass
Thursday, September 21, 2006

Thank you, Stephen, for clarifying the issue. A "climate rich in praise" is a very positive environment for learning and growing into responsible adults. A discipline policy aimed at achieving that is to be welcomed.

I take your point that students choose the consequences of their actions. If that makes people consider the likely consequences of their actions, that is a good thing. Perhaps then we'd see less in the way of driving with excess alcohol, smoking, or other potentially damaging behaviours.

My only misgiving so far is that the anecdotal evidence suggests the policy isn't all that it is intended to be. If a student really was given a C3 detention for putting a sandwich in his bag on the way out of the canteen, or another for changing from trainers to shoes before school in the playground, as Andy alleges, then I wonder if the consequences really suit the action.

Of course, this assumes that the anecdotes report what actually happened, rather than a partial record. (I remember "editing" explanations to my parents...)

The other quesion relates to my earlier point about a school council with student representatives - if students have themselves been part of the formation of the policy, they are able to own it, and it further cements the elements of a growing community. If they don't own it, it becomes a target for misrepresentation and opposition.

From Elaine Connell
Monday, October 2, 2006

I have worked at Calder High both in a temporary position and on supply. Perhaps I've been very lucky when I've worked there but I found the students to be very easy to manage, polite and with very good senses of humour. I can't say the same about many other schools in West Yorkshire.

I feel that the discipline system that's been introduced will be counterproductive, creating an unnecessarily bad atmosphere between students and teachers. I have recently heard stories from a parent about his son's detention (for a missing pencil) where there were 130 other students in the hall. This is a ridiculous situation in a school where most of the the children are generally well behaved.

Posted by Jonathan Timbers
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Ms Connell draws attention to her status as a former supply teacher at Calder High. Presumably, in her eyes this gives her special standing to comment in public over an internal administrative decision which the school has made. She then adds her pennyworth of tittle tattle ('I have recently heard stories that' etc.).

As a former teacher, I regret to say that I do not think that this is a professional approach. It reflects badly on Ms Connell, whom I am sure must otherwise be a thorougly loyal and trustworthy person.

I am sure that the majority support the school in its efforts to maintain appropriate discipline and respect its right to do so without being undermined by unnecessary public comment.

From Elaine Connell
Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The fact that I have worked in Calder High as a supply teacher does give me a good insight into the discipline of the school. As a former teacher Mr. Timbers must know that children regularly behave far worse with supply teachers than with their usual staff. The fact that I have generally found the students of the school to be well disciplined, polite and friendly indicates to me that unless there has been a dramatic change since I last worked there two years ago such a draconian discipline policy is not needed.

My son only recently left the school. He discussed his day in detail when he returned home and over his five years there we heard little from him that concerned us about students' behaviour.

The new policy is being discussed frequently in Hebden Bridge. Obviously without their permisssion, I cannot use the names of the people who have expressed their dismay at the way their children are being antagonised by the introduction of petty rules and regulations. This is not "tittle-tattle" but genuine concern about the way a school that seemed to be attuned to the needs of its pupils is turning into one which seems to regard them as an enemy to be quelled. I see nothing unprofessional in expressing my opinion about the school which is supposed to serve our community.

From Nigel
Thursday, October 12, 2006

The new discipline policies at Calder High will soon be sussed out by the children. For example my son has said that he has been given an after school detention for being 11 minutes late one morning, so he has said he isn't going to attend the detention. This he says will result in a 1 day exclusion from school, which is as far as he's concerned 'a result'. This just goes to prove the old maxim of 'rules are made to be broken'.

From Student
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

After having 2 after school detentions for things you wouldn't have been given litter duty for. I think that Calder High are trying to concentrate more on the policy than the education of the pupils. The school had a very good reputation before the policy was introduced. Why can't they be happy with that? I have now lost a lot of confidence in the school and I don't think I shall be staying on in the 6th form to continue with my studies there.

(Thanks for the above which we posted, after some thought, because "Student" makes an important point. We would prefer, however, people to give names, as stated in the forum guidelines - webmaster)

From Adam
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

With the ridiculous discipline policy in effect I expect that Student may have been punished for high treason against Calder High for giving a name.

Seriously though, I have been at a school in the past where students were treated in such a manner. I had never known such a lack of respect for school students and that is saying something. In addition I have never ever in all of my experience known a 6th form so utterly immature, the behaviour often resembled pre-teens or those in their early teens rather than 17 and 18 year olds. At least two teachers (one who had arrived from outside the area and one who taught around a number of schools) held the same view as me, the head teacher also had sympathy with my views.

Such a policy often prevents students from thinking for themselves, alienates them and results in extreme immaturity.

From Councillor Susan Press
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I attended a v strict catholic convent school in the 1970s.But detention was reserved for serious stuff. That did not include missing gym shoes (we didn't have trainers then), pencils, or even vital ingredients for Domestic Science.

And in those days we even had desks and proper classrooms to keep our stuff in. Today, children don't. No wonder they forget stuff. I would have been in permanent detention under such draconian nonsense.

I think the Calder High policy is absurd. And what's more potentially very distressing indeed for the kids who go there. How can forgetting pencils etc be "anti-social" behaviour. Choices and consequences? Sounds like Victorian claptrap to me. By all means punish serious misdemeanours - but cash rewards for good behaviour (the new Calder regime) is not my idea of a great value system.

From Oscar
Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The education system has undergone radical and constant change, even in the past few years. Pupils and teachers face new and very different challenges. Young people today are the 'multimedia' generation, mobile phones, iPods, mySpace, youtube, bebo, email, msn, txt... They are taught with interactive whiteboards connected through high speed broadband internet connections, where the latest global knowledge is accessed and presented in an instant.

As a youth worker I fully support the system of informed choices and consequences. One of the greatest changes in the past few years is discipline. Gone is the birch and the cane, gone is the threat of physical abuse and gone with that (some may say) is 'fear by control' and 'false respect'. Young people are aware of their rights, and are not afraid to apply them, unfortunately, sometimes to an extreme. Whilst in a primary school recently, I witnessed the arrival of the Police to deal with the phone call an eight year old girl made claiming 'Child Abuse' ? her mother wouldn't let her take her toys to school!

Informed Choice

John, I'm asking you to put out that cigarette, you know you shouldn't be doing that here


John, I know you're aware of the rules, you've chosen not to put out the cigarette, you've given me no choice but issue a warning.

Informed Choice

John, you've chosen to turn up on time for every lesson this week, your attendance has been excellent

Consequence well done, you?ve earned a reward.

With young people consistency is vital; mixed messages from different authority figures only lead to confusion. A cross organisational policy and consistent application is essential. Through frameworks such as Every Child Matters, multiple agencies are engaged in a consistent approach to support and educate our young people. Police, schools, doctors, youth workers, the justice system, are all working together, pulling in the same direction.

Last week, as I was sat in the Youth Action Cafe, the subject of the Calder High disciple policy was discussed. I took the opportunity to talk about this with a group of young people who had been given detentions. Not one of them blamed the policies or the teachers, they agreed they knew the rules and chose to break them and explained why. They also agreed that the rules were there to ensure the smooth running of the school.

We must trust the highly trained, experienced professionals who take charge of our children in our schools. We must trust them that their approach is justified and correct.

We must also remember that these young people are tomorrows doctors, electricians, mechanics, politicians, etc... these are the people we should be guiding, supporting and encouraging to fulfil their dreams and aspirations.

Talking of informed choices, it may be worth having a look here and also the 'letters to parents' section. You may also choose to talk to teachers and young people before you choose to contribute to this debate. Without knowing the facts the consequences, are, at the very least, detrimental.

See also

Has Calder High gone mad?

Calder High - elsewhere on the Hebweb