The government’s “discipline” tsar has just issued a checklist of “tough measures” to help schools deal with misbehaviour. Teachers are being told to make punishments clear, to patrol playgrounds, to know the names of every pupil, to keep calm when dealing with difficult children, to impose a good system of rewards and so on…
Er, excuse me, but isn’t it hugely patronising for central government to be telling teachers these things? Shouldn’t teachers be TRUSTED to deal with misbehaviour as and when it occurs? The thing I’ve noticed during my twenty years in the classroom is that human behaviour is very complex; there is no magic formula. A whole host of things need to be got right before children behave properly. Improving the “context” of learning is just as important as having a set of rules on the wall; the curriculum needs to be appropriate and challenging, assessment regimes need to be fair, teacher and pupil morale needs to be high and so on.
I think these “guidelines” send the coded message that, yet again, teachers just simply don’t know what they’re doing.
The problem is that this government is utterly muddled in its thinking about education. On the one hand, it prides itself in “setting schools free”, and yet, on the other, it’s about to impose an entirely new and centralised National Curriculum and exam system upon us, and tell us how to manage behaviour in our schools. It’s completely topsy-turvy. This latest set of guidelines beg all sorts of questions: just how “voluntary” are they? Will they form part of Ofsted’s checklist? Will free schools be obliged to follow these guidelines?
It just doesn’t add up.