Dealing with Misbehaviour

Dealing with misbehaviour

The school has a clear behaviour policy, and a series of expectations of the way that students should behave when at school.  For transgressions of expectations that attract more serious sanctions, these will generally reflect those values upheld by our society.  i.e treating each other with respect, care and tolerance; avoiding prejudice, abuse of others and/or criminal acts. 

Why have school sanctions?

In the same way that parents or carers use praise, reward and the removal of privileges to encourage their children to behave in the way that they would wish, the school also uses rewards and sanctions. 

For many minor matters, a discussion of the issues and the way to address these is sufficient.  Where there is an ongoing problem, or the misbehaviour is more serious, then this discussion will be accompanied by sanctions.

The purpose of sanctions is to reinforce that certain behaviours or attitudes are not acceptable.  For more serious ongoing matters, sanctions also serve as a form of warning that failure to correct misbehaviour could lead to temporary or, in extreme cases, permanent removal from the school in order to protect others’ education or well-being.

Deciding the sanction that applies

When an incident occurs, then a sanction will be set by the relevant member of staff in line with the school behaviour policy. 

There are times when an incident needs investigation before a decision can be made.  This may be because it is a reported concern without direct evidence as yet and/or because student accounts are at variance with other reports.  In these instances, the following general procedure is followed:

  • 1. students concerned are asked to give an account and investigatory staff will ask additional questions to clarify sequencing, detail or any apparent discrepancies
  • 2. any witnesses will be asked for their account; this will include students and staff.  Where possible, witnesses who are neutral i.e. not part of involved students’ friendship groups, will be used.
  • 3. Any camera footage of the area at the time will be viewed
  • 4. A decision will be made as to the likely pattern of events based on the evidence collected. 

The school will make the final decision of the sanction that applies in any situation; this is its responsibility.  Any decision is not subject to parental/carer approval, though the school would make every effort for parents/carers to understand the reasons behind its decision and how this complies with its behaviour policy. 

The school will not accept that any individual student should be exempt from school sanctions.  All students must comply with sanctions set by the school.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) 

What happens if you can’t prove, without any doubt, what happened in a given incident?

We do not need to do so.  Schools are expected to take into account the “balance of probability” as to what has happened, rather than the requirement to prove something “beyond all reasonable doubt” as is the case in a court of law.  However, we always try to get as accurate a picture as possible before making any decision.

What happens if the school and a parent/carer disagree about the way to respond to an incident?

The vast majority of parents/carers are very supportive of the school stance, understanding that the school is a large and complex organisation with over 2000 students who all come from a range of home backgrounds with the subtle differences that make every family dynamic unique.

We can not promise that our values and judgements will automatically reflect an individual parent's/carer’s views – though we do try to make sure that our stance is logical, clearly explained and that we have a consistent rationale that we apply fairly. 

The school has the right to impose sanctions without parent/carer consent and – if necessary - will do so to make sure that, within the school context, children are dealt with fairly and consistently.  However, we would always prefer to explain the rationale and gain parent/carer support rather than simply state our right to impose any sanction.

Can I refuse a sanction set for my child?

No. The school is legally entitled to set and impose detentions and other permitted sanctions, and does not require parent/carer permission to do so. However, if you feel that there is evidence that the school has not considered in making this decision, then we would encourage you to contact the member of staff, department or Year Team concerned.

What do I do if my child is upset by being given a school sanction?

It is very easy to become upset when your child is upset, and to act upon the information that they give you without knowing the full story.

We would recommend that you talk to your child and try to find out what is at the root of their upset.  Often, it is worry about your reactions or your disappointment in them. 

If children are upset that they have a sanction because they feel they have let themselves or you down, then that is a great credit to them – and makes it more likely that any misbehaviour is a “one off”. 

If your child is saying that the sanction is unfair, see if he/she can explain why.  As an adult, you may be able to give them the wider perspective that children typically lack.  However, if you think that what your child is saying doesn’t sound right, then the best thing to do is to contact the school to check whether you have the full picture.

We would strongly recommend that you ask for clarification first, rather than going solely on what your child says to you.  Children can be prone to selecting the bits that soften a loved one’s anger with them – and this can give you a misleading picture of the situation!

However, there are also occasions when we haven’t got the full context of the situation; your help in giving us this extra information means we can make sure we are being as fair as possible to any children involved.

Does my child being given a sanction mean that the school will then view him/her as a problem or failure?

No.  In the same way that parents/carers will pick up on misbehaviour at home, the school picks up misbehaviour at school.  We all know that children will test the boundaries, make some poor decisions or let their emotions rule their response on occasion.  Growing up and developing the skills to cope successfully with adult life is about learning from these mistakes.

However, where children don’t learn from the advice given at home or school, and keep on making the same mistakes, then this will become a more serious concern.  The school will then talk to parents/carers about different ways to try to resolve the issues identified.

Does my child being given a sanction mean that parents/carers are at fault?

No.  There are very rare cases when a child carries out instructions given by a parent/carer which puts the child into a position where the child is in conflict with the school ethos.  In these situations, the parents/carers are compounding their child’s difficulties.
However, the vast majority of misbehaviours are not in this category – but result from the child deciding on a course of action that parents/carers would not condone (and the child knows it too!). 

What can parents/carers do to reinforce any sanction given by the school?

Parents/carers have a huge influence on how their children react to any sanctions given; the messages given by parents/carers at home are very important in terms of the effectiveness of any sanction.  Parents'/carers’ discussions with their child about the better way to handle a situation, the rationale behind the school’s response (plus any sanctions you feel appropriate) are enormously helpful and supportive of your child’s good behaviour at school. 

Do I have the right to be present if my child is seen by the Headteacher?

No. Parents/carers do not have the right to be present in discussions between any member of staff and a student, including the Headteacher. However, the school will often invite parents/carers to join a discussion of concern, or to review progress where issues have been identified and an action plan put into place.

What can I do if I believe that the school’s response to an incident is unfair or unreasonable?

As always, if you feel an approach is unfair or unreasonable, then you can write to the Headteacher and/or Governing Body asking for a review of the policy. 
If you think the sanction given for a particular incident is unfair eg not in line with stated school policy, then you can use the informal or formal complaints procedure to make your case.