How Centralised Detentions Get Pupils' Attention
TES|October 25, 2019
By adopting a consistent whole-school approach to rewards and sanctions, we achieved a marked improvement in attitudes to learning – and reduced teachers’ workload, says Calvin Robinson
Calvin Robinson

Behaviour in our school was always considered good, especially in comparison with other schools in the area. But I didn’t want to settle for good. You can't expect to have outstanding teaching and learning if there are still lots of low-level behaviour issues.

I wanted our school to be a place that anyone could turn up and teach in, a place a supply teacher would want to return to.

So, with a colleague – and the principal’s backing – I set to work on a new “behaviour for learning” policy, heavily influenced by Tom Bennett’s independent review on behaviour in schools.

Changing the behaviour culture of a school is a daunting task – and one that can feel like an uphill struggle. Ultimately, it comes down to outlining clear rewards and sanctions and being completely consistent with them.

For a new behaviour system to work, and for it to genuinely be used throughout the school, we knew we had to get the whole staff body on board.

We decided to form a working party, with an open invitation to all staff members (teaching and otherwise), rather than taking a top-down approach. This enabled us to get feedback from a large number of stakeholders, including learning support assistants, admin staff and the school council. It was less a consultation process, more an open exploration of ideas.

It became clear that centralised detentions would need to be a key part of the shift we wanted to make.

Teachers wanted to leave behind a Wild West system of everyone running their own detentions around already busy schedules. What was desired was a central detention in one place, manned by a dedicated supervisor and/or senior leadership team member. So, that’s what we did first.

Sending all pupils to one location means they are more likely to be held accountable for their actions. It stops them playing teachers off against each other with the old “I can’t do your detention today, Sir because I’ve already got one with Miss”. It also means there is a single list of names to be checked at the gate, to catch any attempted escapees.

Monitoring and managing

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