So it’s probably no secret that I had a hard time at school. The environment at my school, at least through my eyes, was toxic. By the time it came for me to leave secondary school the place had gone downhill with teachers either too afraid or flat out refusing to do anything about any sort of bullying. I once had a chair thrown at me in a classroom where the teacher was watching and all he did was tell the student to “sit down”. That was the extent of the punishment in my school.
We did have these things called conduct marks. Basically you had ten conduct marks each week and every time you misbehaved or broke the rules the teacher could take one away from you (I can’t remember if they gave them out or took them away, but either way it was a tally system). At the end of the week, when you got your Planner signed by your tutor, the amount of conduct marks you had (or had lost) would indicate your punishment; detention or meeting with headteacher usually. The problems here were that tutors were far too lazy to check Planners and so a lot of people got away with misbehaving and no repercussions.
So this is where the title comes in. If I ran the school I would make some changes.
First and foremost everybody would be treated equally. I know teachers try to do this but I’m talking on a wider scale. The drama kids are treated the same as the sporty kids, the same as the arty kids or the DIY kids. It’s all the same. If any achievements are to be celebrated then all of them will. At my school it was far too obvious that sports were favoured over anything else. The assemblies always had sports awards and sports news and stuff about the school sports teams. It was horrific for anybody who wasn’t interested in sports. Do away with that and make everything fair. You talk about the local sport success in assembly? Then you also talk about the viewing for students’ artwork or the auditions for a school play.
The major change I would make is to discipline.
You have three chances in the first phase basically. If somebody puts in a complaint about you misbehaving, breaking rules or bullying then they need to be investigated. If the investigation proves you have misbehaved or broken rules then these are the three-step punishments to be followed.
Step 1 – You receive a warning. (If a severe punishment is needed then you receive detention). (Offer help if the infraction may have been due to a mental health issue or biological problem).
Step 2 – You receive a detention (If a more severe punishment is needed then you receive a suspension).
Step 3 – Suspension.
When you return to school after your suspension then your three chances turn into two.
Step 1 – Detention.
Step 2 – Expelled.
These cover most of the infractions within school boundaries. Bunking off school? Refusing to listen to a teacher? Non-Physical bullying? They are all classed under this scheme.
However, there is an alternate scheme for serious infractions. This category is for use in the case of physical violence (of any sort) or carrying a weapon and other serious issues.
Step 1 – Expelled. The Police will be involved if it would be considered a criminal offence, had it been outside of school property.
Zero tolerance. This is what zero tolerance looks like. It’s expelling people when they need to be expelled.
Follow these rules and the school will be a much better place for those that do want to be there.
But, I hear some people say, these people who were expelled will suffer down the line when they leave school with no qualifications. To that I say “So?” If you cannot be a civilised human being in school towards other students then I have very little sympathy for you. What school doesn’t do now is reinforce consequences. Nowhere will take you if you’ve been expelled from every school in the area because, and rightfully so, you will be seen as trouble.
This is brought on by the fact that I witnessed an awful lot of physical bullying in my school. Not just towards me, although that is the stuff I remember most vividly, but across the entirety of the school. And guess what? Probably only between 1 and 5% of these cases were ever treated seriously. Some of them weren’t reported because they knew teachers wouldn’t do anything and those that were reported were mostly just dismissed after a meeting with parents (which is considerably unhelpful for everybody involved).
Parents don’t currently take it seriously. If this rigid guideline were in place then you know the severity of the infraction because it relates to the punishment. Parents would have to take it seriously when physical violence is seeing their child kicked out of all schools within the area. They will need to take action instead of claiming excuses for their child. Because that’s what we need more of, more action and less talk.
A school needs to start being treated like a workplace. I know that the rules I have suggested are the rules that my company obeys. As such we have zero physical violence, I’m not afraid to go in there in fear of being assaulted and because we understand there are consequences to actions. If we seriously broke rules then we would be looking for another place to work, the same should be said for a school.