Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Strange Powers

The Law giving teachers magical new powers came into effect yesterday, but as we're on holiday we must wait awhile before getting completely carried away.

It sounds like a step in the right direction, but as with all things, let's look at the reality. ie what difference will it make when Ashley doesn't turn up for his detention for the 20th time?

Because many journalists are bone idle, the extent of these powers depend on which paper you read. To prevent you from inadvertently giving Wayne a detention on Christmas Day, I have had a look at the bill itself and discovered the following:

Basically you can give a detention after school or on Saturday or Sunday during term time. (Great!) BUT you must still give 24 hours written notice to parents (and if they are crafty they could appeal that you haven't taken into account their travel needs)

You can also use 'reasonable force' to prevent Shane from doing anything particularly naughty. (as long as it's on school premises or somewhere where you are in charge of him ie a school trip). You can't give him a clout as a punishment however.

You can also tell Shazney to hand over her mobile phone although there is little guidance on how to handle the ensuing refusal.

Have a read for yourself here (if you are finding it hard to sleep) Download and click on 'Behaviour, discipline and zzzz....) None of it seems much different from what you can already do. I can't find anything that backs up some of the wilder claims in the news.

Or buy 'It's Your Time You're Wasting' for details of an alternative discipline policy.


Scots said...

Unless you have the full backing of parents, nothing the school does is going to make the slightest difference. It is my experience, as one of these much hated SMT members, that the majority of parents will back up their little angel even with mountains of damning evidence pointing the finger directly at wee Johnny. I excluded a child last week only to have the mother scream and shout abuse at me in a corridor in front of her child - now that really set the agenda for discussing respect! The Grandfather then called and gave a volley of abuse down the phone and threatened me with the police and the Exclusion Appeals Committee because I was taking the side of the teacher who was assaulted. Why do we bother? These new magical powers are only for England and Wales ... but will they make a difference? Let me think about that....

Anonymous said...

Scots - you bother because you have professional integrity.

Give in to those morons, and you are just as bad as they are.

It isn't nice to face their abuse - and that is why schools need the same 'zero tolerance' culture that the NHS enjoys - but it is necessary to face it down.

Nine times out of ten, the problem isn't the argumentative parents (you get them everywhere, including at my children's £10k a year school) - the problem is the spineless SMT who appease them.

The difference between a good school you are proud to work in and are delighted to see your children attend is the way that exactly the same laws are applied by those in control.

As someone who has worked in the best and worst of Tyneside's schools, less than a mile apart and with identical catchment areas but the world of difference in management attitude, I am not interested in the new laws.

I'm more interested in SMT's attitude. Whose side are they on?


Anonymous said...

It's a battle?
Who's the enemy?

Anonymous said...

The only powers teachers need are:

1) the power of professional autonomy, so that we can go back to making up our own minds about what is right for the students of this country. Instead of the government treating us like children and having everything set out for us.

2) the power to reintroduce corpral punishment, so that when the little darlings don't sit down and listen quietly whilst the teacher is trying to teach, he/she can give them a short, sharp slap on the hand, instead of having to use pointless detentions and letters home that have no effect.

3) the power to abolish league tables and spurious targets, which stop teachers from actually educating students, and force schools to become mere exam factories. How many times does it need saying, the actual qualifications you leave school with should, at the most, make up 10% of a childs education. Real learning is about so much more.

4) It also needs to be said that teachers should not have to pander to the whims of their students. Students should not be the ones in charge, it should be the teachers. It is not the job of a teacher to fit in round the wants of a student. Rather, it is the students role to get in line with the teachers wishes.

Personally, I think we need to go back to the days when up until you reached 18 you were still seen as a child and bloody well did as you were told. Children and young people today have far too many adult freedoms, expectations and priviliges. In conjunction we have also taken away our means of effective and strict discipline which has created the problem of behaviour that we have now.

It might be old fashioned but I firmly believe that children and young people need ruling with a rod of iron in their formative years. Now I'm not saying children should be seen and not heard, but we have had nearly 20 years to show us the consequences of what happens when children are given so much freedom without the provision of very firm discipline and control.


jerym said...

Whoever you are anonymous I thank you for putting so eloquently my same thoughts on this desperatly urgent subject. I am not a teacher but we have brought up four sons and now have eighteen grandchildren who we see continuously (they all live within six miles of us) which indicates to me that firm loving discipline and being quite clear that we were in charge does not make make them unhappy and alienated from their parents.It never ceases to amaze me to see parents asking children to make decisions from a very early age when it is obvious that they have neither the ability or experience to do so,if only these well meaning parents realised that young children would prefer having the comfort of safe parameters to be just children.These are the important formative years and if more emphasis was placed on infant and primary education the problems experienced later on would be much less.The drawback with this is that any results would take at least a generation to appear and useless mickey mouse degrees in university courses are much more impressive in the relatively short time they are in government.

Anonymous said...

Jerym, I agree with most of what you said but I still think that you need ot allow children to make some decisions - otherwise how will they be equipped for the real world once they hit 18?

My parents treated me with respect and I did them the same courtesy. I was asked my opinion and to make decisions from a young age and I learnt a lot from that level of responsibility for myself.

My god daughter has been brought up along the same lines and she is a good role model for all kids her age.

It's not giving children the decisions, its the way that parents choose to give them this power that is damning the future generation.

From a politics and history graduate who now has a proper job

jerym said...

Anonymous,my fault,I should have said "at" a very early age.Wise parents 0bviously encourage and advise their children to make more and more decisions as they grow older its a matter of judging when they are capable.Communication and understanding is of paramount importance in bringing up kids.I think a fundamental cause of many of the problems in society today is the power without responsibility given to many youngsters who dont see any point in becoming independent and hence the apparent continuation of adolescence into their early thirties and adolescents do not always make wise parents.The downright bad parents of problem children were often problem children themselves and the only way that I can see to break this vicious circle is tackle it when they are young with extra good and influential infant and primary schools.

Anonymous said...


in response to your comments about my post I agree whole heartedly. It is definately a matter of very careful and selctive timing when we should start GRADUALLY giving children more freedoms. However, first they need to demonstrate and justify those increased freedoms by showing us that they are able to deal with more complex choices as they grow older.

I certainly agree that you should not treat young people like mushrooms and that they do need to be given responsibilities, so that they can mature into adults. However, these responsibilities need to be enforced and given slowly with very strict guidance and discipline.

Children and young people also need to be taught their place, which to my mind means that they can't view themselves as being equal to their elders. Simply put they are the children we are the adults; so whether they like it or not they have to do as they are told.

A large part of the problem today is that we have allowed these boundaries to become blured. Consequently, you now get rude and disrespectful youngsters who think they can look an adult in the eyes and think themselves that older persons equal. This, I'm sure, makes them feel like they have the right to answer back and not do as they are told.

It makes me angry that we have allowed our society to become subservient to a culture of politically correct nonsense and softly softly placating of young people.

I can remember my time at school and if we messed around we weren't given a stupid and pointless detention, we knew we were going to get cained (and then probably worse when we got home for getting into trouble in the first place)

I only ever got it the once and I never dared mess around again. Be it right or wrong I firmly believe that having that small amount of fear in the back of your mind regarding a punishment that actually hurt, kept the vast majority of us in line. We certainly would never have dared be as rude as the youngsters are today.

My point really is; give teachers the powers they had up until about 20 years ago back, so that they have the authority to put children and young people back in their place. I'm sorry but if that means putting that small amount of fear back into the minds of the students then so be it.