I was watching ‘Born Naughty?’ on Channel 4 last night. The mother of a young boy thought her son had a chronic sleep issue which manifested as frequent periods of stressful wakefulness throughout the night. The knock-on effect of this sleep deprivation was (somewhat inevitably) poor concentration and appalling behaviour in daytime hours.
Once cameras were duly installed in his bedroom to analyse the poor child’s sleep patterns, it transpired that he was receiving regular unwelcome visitations in the night from both the family dog and at least one cat. The dog was even shown sleeping on his pillow – leaving nowhere for said child to even lay his weary head. Each time one of the family’s menagerie jumped on the bed, the boy would wake up. Oh dear.
So what conclusions can we draw from all of this? Well, the mother of this child wanted him to be psychologically assessed for a label to explain his condition. As Autism apparently ran in her family, this is what she was hoping for.
When the accumulated experts concluded that he was simply in a state of permanent physical and mental exhaustion, his mother looked somewhat taken-aback. I don’t mean to be flippant, but quite frankly, the mind boggles as to how the mother hadn’t at least considered that the pets could have been an issue?
Therefore, I would suggest, it’s wise that we bear in mind that we can’t always rely on parents to correctly identify what’s best for their child and deal with matters appropriately.
I have now digressed somewhat from the original point of the blog, but I’ll try to make it fit somehow.
One of our deputies is due to retire at the end of this month, I can only imagine that she dreamed up the concept of the 1.30 club as a welcome leaving gift to the remaining staff. A gift that’s long-overdue.
The 1.30 club – as explained to us the other day – will be for pupils who make any misdemeanour of more than a minor nature, any point during the school day. Examples include, incorrect uniform, poor quality work, swearing, unruliness, being sent out of class… In fact, any behaviour which attracts negative attention from staff will qualify that pupil for automatic and immediate membership of The 1.30 Club. New members will be escorted from their last lesson of the morning to the allocated room by an ‘on call’ member of staff. There they will spend all of their lunch time away from other pupils and social activities, and be given 10 minutes in the same room to eat their lunch. Those pupils that usually finish at lunch time will be late leaving for home.
The retiring deputy has even produced a series of jolly, colourful posters to be distributed around the school. These cheerfully advertise the 1.30 club and clearly outline its membership requirements very much in the style of a flyer for a local youth club. She has also gone as far as to include the quote from the DfE document explaining that no prior notice, or permission from parents is required for detentions. This is important because parents are often brought into such matters, and sometimes they even attempt to overrule decisions staff make regarding how best to manage the behaviour of their unruly offspring.
Although detentions are already among our arsenal of sanctions, they have often been undefined, spasmodic, inconsistent, and sometimes difficult to enforce. Also, they have only tended to be given for extreme examples of behaviour. I’m very surprised (and more than a little delighted!) to see our school finally make a utilitarian move towards a zero-tolerance, zero-excuses attitude towards behaviour that I have seen and envied other settings for. In fact I could barely contain my glee when all of this was explained to us the other day. Thankfully, the concept also seemed popular with other staff members. The 1.30 Club will begin in earnest next week. I’m hopeful that it will prove a useful deterrent to poor behaviour, and a welcome addition to our sanction options.
But whilst some will be supportive, I’m quite certain that some of our parents will complain that The 1.30 Club is harsh, unfair and possibly even suggest that there are human rights issues here (it has been known!). But they would be wise to consider that their offspring are already attending a behavioural pupil referral unit. There really is very little beneath them on the slippery slope of educational downfall. By further clarifying which behaviours would prove unacceptable in any educational setting, a few missed lunchtimes might just help their kids to cling on to the hillside for a bit longer – hopefully they may even begin some sort of ascent.