Pupils at one of the Fylde’s top independent schools, St Anne’s College Grammar School, have been delighted to learn that detentions have now been relegated to ‘a thing of the past’ at their school.
The days of ‘punishing naughty children’ have gone and this innovative and forward-thinking establishment has changed its behaviour policy to be in-keeping with current times.
Whilst a yellow and red card system remains in operation to keep pupils focused and on-task at all times in lessons, detentions have been replaced with a ‘holistic approach’ to addressing and correcting student behaviour if required.
Vice Principal Abigail Welsby said, ‘As a society and as education professionals, we’re now far more aware of and trained in pupils’ needs, struggles, Mental Health and trauma responses. If a pupil is acting up, there is clearly something that’s troubling them. It could be as simple as they’ve skipped breakfast, had an argument before they’ve arrived at school and it’s still on their mind, they’re anxious, tired or they’ve fallen out with their friends and are feeling alone. These situations often have a knock-on effect when they are in the classroom. Our approach is to spend time talking to them in a non-confrontational manner, to find out what’s affecting / bothering them, then to work with them to help them to self-regulate and find a solution. Often this is a simple solution, but restorative justice requires time, patience and empathy to arrive at the point whereby they have the understanding and skills to recognise and improve their state of mind and behaviour. Punitive measures simply don’t generate the same result.
In our experience, there is rarely such a thing as a ‘naughty child’ – rather a child who is struggling to process something, who requires the skills and expertise of an experienced professional adult, such as an SSA, teacher or SENCO to guide them. They don’t want or choose to act in that way – it’s often a reaction to a particular event or a set of circumstances.
In our opinion, no one benefits or learns anything from receiving a detention. They’re a waste of everyone’s time. If anything, detentions reinforce a sense of resentment towards teaching professionals and the school. Our policy is to talk to the pupil with kindness and understanding and if necessary, involve the pupil’s parents too. This approach is something that has worked for us for a long time and we achieve far better results in terms of behaviour, academic success and pride for SACGS amongst our pupils, who are completely in agreement with the therapeutic idea of assisting and refocusing them, rather than punishing them.
SACGS does not admit pupils with behavioural difficulties, as other schools are better equipped to deal with this. We recognise, however, that anyone can experience a bad day, and it’s about how you deal with this in a child-focused, positive way, to achieve the best possible outcome for every single pupil.
At the end of the day, your school years should be amongst the happiest of your life, on which you look back as an adult and can say “I really enjoyed school and I learnt a lot – both academically and socially”. This is what we aim to achieve for all of our pupils through personalised teaching, no ‘isolation rooms’ and a strong emphasis on learning as well as teaching.’
St Anne’s College Grammar School (established in 1882) is a small, independent day school for pupils aged 2 – 18 in Lytham St Anne’s, Lancashire.