10/15/2008

It's a shame we can't put some parents in to isolation rooms

I listened to Richard Bacon on Radio Five Live talking to a father objecting to his son being placed in a school isolation room with some shock and a decent amount of disgust last night, utterly shocked that a parent was raising the issue.

The parent, who was complaining, objected to his son being placed in a plain isolation room for one day where he would be expected to work in silence, whilst being supervised by a member of staff. Oddly, this parent thought his son didn't deserve this. His son, he admitted had done something wrong (having let the tyres down of another child's bike), but rather than this man letting this incident act as a salutary lesson for his son (if you do the crime, do the time), he has taught his son that you can complain, whinge and moan at the injustice of being punished for doing wrong.

The schools alternative form of punishment rather than keeping the boy in school and being educated would have been simply to exclude him. Presumably this would have been more acceptable for the boys father.

Then, of course, there is the message isolation rooms and using them sends out to other pupils. It lets pupils know that if they act like fools, if the endanger others, if they want to be "different", then they will be denied the oxygen of publicity for their actions by being kept from those they are seeking to impress, their peers.

But this man on the radio last night was not the only one to set their child a shocking example of parenthood. A mother was on the BBC local news tonight moaning that her child had been denied his "human rights" because her son was also being placed in an isolation room. This room, as we saw on TV was spartan and grey, but had normal desks, normal chairs, was permanently staffed, and just had booths for the children to work in (the sort of thing you work in when visiting libraries in universities).

This woman was incensed that her son had been placed in to isolation reckless violent behaviour. Let me stress that again, reckless violent behavior, and referred to it as incarceration.

It is odd this mother is more incense that her son is punished rather than being seen to deal with her son's reckless violent behaviour. Again, what message is she sending to her son.

Why is it always people who show a flagrant disregard for other peoples rights, the right of other children to be educated and the right to go to school without fear of being violently hurt in an act of recklessness who want to invoke the human rights act to protect them. How about protection for the innocent parties in all this ?

4 comments:

jailhouselawyer said...

I think the school boy prank of letting another kid's bike tyres down was met with an over reaction by the school. Wouldn't telling the offender to apologise and ensure he pumped up the tyres have sufficed?

Malcolm Redfellow said...

There can hardly be a teacher in the land who does not empathise with this post.

My favourite example of a similar event goes back to the 1980s.

We had long-running problems with one boy who had repeatedly been excluded for a whole sequence of misbehaviours, many serious and dangerous. He was referred to me on yet another occasion for total disruption of a class. I tried all the usual methods of sweet reason; but was met with foul language and offensive behaviour. I then referred the matter onwards and upwards.

Eventually the incident reached the level of the Head (an ex-PE teacher). The Head's approach was quite novel: go with the flow, pique and provoke until the boy swung a wild right hook to the jaw. This missed, but achieved the desired result: instant and indefinite exclusion.

The boy's mother was immediately off to the local weekly paper (which published on the Wednesday). Her version of the story was that all the boy had done was break wind in class, and she felt (the only direct quote you're going to get here) "where'er you be, let your wind go free". The next day, the Thursday, it reached the hallowed columns of The Sun: "Expelled for farting" or some similar headline.

My role in the sequence of events remained anonymous, unlike the class teacher and Head -- there are certain advantages in having an unusual surname (one less memorable and more difficult to spell than this pseudonym).

Another example happened in one of the south-coast towns. The local authority tired of replacing broken windows in a social centre; and installed some patent unbreakable glass. Little Johnny pegged one half-brick too many at the target. The patent glazing pinged the missile straight back: little Johnny was laid low. Yes: you're ahead of me -- Johnny's parents tried to sue for compensation.

Bill Quango MP said...

I heard the earlier show on R2. Same stuff,outraged parents and tired teachers repeatedly making the same points about discipline and disruption and being largely ignored. Yet the phone in public, even on a program that felt compelled, for the sake of balance, to let the most idiotic and incoherent air their views, was massively in favour of anything that would improve discipline in schools.

Yet..as with criminal damage, non payment of bills, landlords rights, drunkenness, driving without insurance or a licence..etc etc No one in authority will take any notice. In fact I heard today that it is recommended that schools offer day trips, prizes and rewards to motivate [wait for it] the BADLY BEHAVED pupils to encourage them to be more like the good ones.
A LittleJohn if ever there was...

Norwich School Teacher said...

Indeed every teacher in the country should back this post. 2 stories from today.

Parent A doesn't believe that Child A is a problem in school; the teachers pick on him. She won't back the punishment and if we try to punish him she'll stop him coming to school. It's me with the problem not her son.

Parent B phones to say that she's just had it out with Child B and told him that she won't accept his behaviour. But in the end she worries the school decision is too harsh; she'd never let her son know that because she won't let him see a fag paper between her and the school.

Compare and contrast.

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