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Discipline and Sanctions in School

By: Elizabeth Mugan BA/BSc, PGDipLaw, BVC, CIArb - Updated: 23 May 2011 |
Behaviour Sanctions Discipline Schools

Each school has its own policy, setting out the standards that it expects from your child and what action will be taken if your child's behaviour falls below set standards.

Behaviour policies should be reviewed regularly by the school, staff, parents and pupils. They are put in place to promote respect and self-discipline, as well as for the protection of pupils. Unfortunately, sanctions also need to be in place for those that misbehave.

Rules can be put in place for all areas of school, which may include how to behave in the canteen, in corridors and out of school before, during and after school hours.

School Sanctions

Your child’s school can discipline your child with sanctions if they misbehave. Examples might include loss of privileges, such as breaks or sports, a detention or letter home, removal from class or confiscation of a banned item, such as a mobile phone.

Pupil Discipline

Your child cannot be physically punished by a member of staff at the school, though they can be physically restrained if they get into a fight with another pupil or damage property. Certain members of school staff can search your child, with or without their permission, should they be suspected of carrying a weapon, and you can find out which members are allowed to do this in the school policy document.

Attending Detention

Detentions are a punishment, which can take place during school hours, at lunchtime, after school or at weekends. If your child does not attend without good cause, the school may set a more severe punishment. You should be given at least 24 hours’ notice detailing why your child is in detention and how long it is likely to last. The notice is to enable you to make alternative arrangements for travel, transport and childcare is necessary.

If your child cannot attend the detention for any reason, you can explain the reason to the specific teacher or head teacher. They will normally reconsider the detention in certain circumstances, such as:

  • If they have an appointment or they aren’t at school for whatever reason that day
  • If it falls on a religious day
  • If you cannot make alternative arrangements to pick up your child etc

Fixed Period Exclusions

A child who gets into serious trouble at school can be excluded for a fixed period of time. Schools can exclude a child if, for example, they have seriously broken school rules and allowing them to stay in school would harm their education or welfare, or that of other pupils.

Some other points to bear in mind are that only the head teacher can Exclude A Child and they can't be given fixed period exclusions for more than 45 school days in any one school year (for non-permanent exclusions). If your child is excluded for longer than one school day, the school should set work for them and mark it.

The school should call you on the day exclusion is given and follow up with a letter that included information on the period and reason for exclusion. It is important to note that your duty during the first five days of any exclusion is to ensure that your child is not in the public eye during normal school hours, whether alone or with a parent. The school must inform you of any arrangements that apply from the sixth day of the exclusion, if applicable.

Permanent Exclusions

Your child’s school will usually only exclude them permanently from school if they have repeatedly misbehaved and a number of sanctions have not worked to tackle their bad behaviour. There are, however, few circumstances where the school can permanently exclude your child immediately.

Unhappy About Your Child's Exclusion?

If your child has already been excluded, then there are a number of steps to follow. First, the head teacher’s decision to exclude must be reviewed by the Board of Governors. You may arrange a meeting with them to discuss your views on the exclusion.If, after the meeting, the Board decides in favour of the head teacher, you have the opportunity to appeal to an independent panel arranged by the Local Authority.

Your child’s school must explain in writing how you can go about lodging an appeal. When permanently excluded, the Local Authority must provide alternative education for your child after the sixth day of exclusion.

For more advice and information on sanctions and discipline in schools, speak to your child’s school or your Local Authority.

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