How to improve discipline in Schools

There is no discipline in schools just now. As it currently stands the most people seem to get is a small talking to, but even this is twisted into showing things in a positive light.

Teachers have little or no power; they’re often not backed up by the senior management in the school who in turn are most certainly not backed up by the LEA.

Head teachers are encouraged not to exclude pupils and when they do the parents of these children have a right to appeal this exclusion, which usually excluded from – which is only going to make them feel even more powerful and cause their behaviour to deteriorate further.

One of the major contributory factors to the behaviour of pupils is this “one size fits all” approach to education we are taking to education. Common sense says that one size doesn’t fit all. This has lead to a policy of inclusion, which has seen a reduction in setting and an increased in mixed-ability classes (having a detrimental affect on the education of all in the class, not just the brighter pupils). This policy of inclusion has also lead to the reduction of power vested in schools to deal with disruptive pupils and also a reduction in the numbers of specialist schools. Everyone is being forced into a system that doesn’t work for many of them.

I’ve mentioned a few issues and I want to look at some in a little more depth and will now do this.

Mixed-ability teaching

This is hopeless and doesn’t work. It makes the job of the teacher even more difficult trying to set a lesson for a very wide set of abilities. Setting is being abandoned as it is seen as ‘prejudicial’ and ‘stigmatising’. This may be, but it helps to give more people a better chance of achieving at school.

When pupils are set the teacher is dealing with a much smaller range of abilities. This means that they can plan a lesson that is appropriate and will challenge all those in the class rather than being too easy for one half and far too difficult for the other half of the class (as is the case with mixed-ability teaching). This means the less bright students can be taught at a level they understand and might actually leave school with a couple of qualifications rather than none at all while at the same time those at the top will get the help and support they need to achieve the grades they are capable of.

Threats as discipline

Sadly, this is what discipline in schools today mainly consists of: threats, all of which are empty! You an try excluding a pupil from a class, but guaranteed they’ll be back in he next lesson (if not that very one). Even worse if you try and exclude a person fro the school completely the head teacher has to push hard to justify it: simply “he assaulted a teacher” will not do. Then the parent’s can appeal this exclusion, where no doubt they will play the “my son is getting bullied by the teachers” card and the exclusion will be overturned. This makes no sense really, if your son/daughter is being bulled by teachers at a school, why would you bother appealing an exclusion to get them back in there – surly it would make more sense to use this as a new start and move them to another school? Anyway, hat was a slight tangent.

If an appeal is successful (which they invariably are) the disruptive pupil returns with an increased sense of importance and a feeling of they really can’t be touched (which is true, but is very dangerous) and will only provide them with a reason to behave even worse than they originally did.

Then, there is the reluctance of police involvement. Assaults on teachers often go unreported to the police as head teachers are unwilling to get them involved. The same goes with cases of vandalism and destruction of school property; short of burning the school down or blowing it up there is little chance of vandalism being taken seriously.

It’s the same case with assaults by pupils on pupils: the school are reluctant to get the police involved.

Effective discipline policies need to be put n place and followed. If a teacher says that X will happen if you don’t stop doing Y then X has to happen when the pupil does not stop Y.

Falling number of “special schools”

Who knows what they are called these days – it’s probably not PC to call them special schools. I am of course referring to schools which took children with learning disabilities and provide them with a specialist education, provided by specially trained teachers, that is appropriate for them. This just cannot e catered for in the mainstream system.

I am not saying that all children with learning difficulties should be sent to specialist schools, but it is clear that those who would benefit from it are being forced into mainstream education as part of the policy of inclusion.

It doesn’t help anyone to do this. The child with the learning disability (again that’s probably not PC, but I don’t care) will not get the help and support that the need and as result will not get as good an education as they deserve. The rest of the class also suffer as adjustments need to be made to try and provide for the disability and as such their standard of education is not as great as it should be.

Curriculum

The curriculum doesn’t work either. It is far to focused on Exam results and trying to each a wide are of subjects. If little Jimmy can’t read or write English properly, is there really any point in trying to teach him French, German, Spanish or whatever Modern Foreign Language the school teaches? If they can’t do their basic times tables is it really worthwhile teaching them calculus, standard deviation, trigonometry or anything else like that? Probably not!

Some people are just not academic. It is a fact of life. Why do we insist on trying to teach them advanced academic things? Would it not be better to teach them things they’ll actually use? The more research I do into Education the more I am in favour of vocational qualifications being taught in school. Why don’t we try and teach those who have little chance of getting their GCSE French, Maths, English and so on the very basic maths and English that they need along with providing them opportunities to learn a trade?

Teach them how to write English, how to read English and how to do basic mathematical calculations (i.e. how to add, subtract, multiply and divide) along with say plumbing or bricklaying. Yes, these kinds of qualifications will be seen as lesser, but do you really need a degree to become a plumber? How will this aid discipline? The answer is quite simple really, many of those who disrupt classes are bored and that is mainly because they are getting nothing from school. French, Calculus, Standard deviation and so on are not benefiting them in any way whereas equipping them with the basic skills they need when they leave school and giving them a trade that they can then go on and earn a living from might just give them the motivation to learn!

Then there is this policy of aiming to have 50% of people going to university. Yes, I’m all for opening up Higher education and more people should be able to go. However, the people we should be encouraging are those with the academic ability, and not the financial ability to go. This will serve society better in the long run.

Okay, at the risk of going on for even longer I will end this here simply by saying: this will not eradicate the problem, but I am fairly sure that it will significantly decrease the problems in school (and society in general) and make the problem easier to manage.

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