Would you send a complaint to school about unfair whole class punishment?

(57 Posts)
TittyNotSusan Mon 17-Mar-14 21:40:51

I'm a regular but have NC.

DD is in Y7. She has never missed a homework all year, and not lost any behaviour points or got a detention.

She has a new science teacher who took over at Feb half term, and on the second week a piece of equipment got broken. No one knows who did it, but I am very confident it wasn't DD. She was sitting right at the front all lesson. Teacher has imposed a full class detention every lunchtime until someone owns up. There is no end date to this as far as the kids know. The first one was today.

According to DD, one girl had a note from her dad to say he refused for her to do the detention, and so she was excused it. Today lots of other kids were saying they will bring a note in tomorrow and DD wants me to write one for her.

I normally try to support teachers wherever possible, but I think in this case the teacher has made a poor decision and backed herself into a corner. I am very unhappy about DD having detention every single lunchtime for an indefinite period of time.

Do these whole class punishments ever result in a culprit owning up? I remember them from when I was at school and they always ended with the teacher having to back down and lose face.

pointythings Mon 17-Mar-14 21:54:32

Write the note. Then complain to the Head. Collective punishment never brings any results and is morally unacceptable. You need to stand up for your DD here.

bigbuttons Mon 17-Mar-14 21:56:17

It's lazy teaching, ineffective and unfair. Write a strongly worded letter.

TittyNotSusan Mon 17-Mar-14 22:04:40

OK thanks I'm glad you both agree. I am happy to write a strongly worded letter but I'm really disappointed that a new teacher would get off on such a bad footing with a new class.

It's such a shame as science is DD's favourite subject and she has made amazing progress this year with her old teacher, who she adored. At this age a bit of crap discipline from a poor teacher is enough to put them off a subject for good. It doesn't take much to turn girls off science and it's bloody hard to get them to stick at it.

chicaguapa Mon 17-Mar-14 22:07:27

I agree too. DH is a teacher and we did the same when DD was given a whole class punishment. Particularly as it's against school policy.

MillyMollyMama Mon 17-Mar-14 22:10:10

I would guess this type of detention is not in the school's behaviour and sanction policy. You should check before you write. Get a copy from the school if you can't find it online or as part of your info from from the school. It is just plain wrong to punish the whole class and it is using the children to grass up the culprit. Unlikely to be productive and will quickly build resentment.

TittyNotSusan Mon 17-Mar-14 22:19:04

I totally agree Milly. Even if this gets resolved, either by the HT stepping in, the majority of parents complaingin, or by a child being bullied into owning up, the damage is still done. DD is not mature enough to do her best work for a teacher she doesn't like, and I don't suppose she's the only 12yo who isn't.

I've just checked online and the school's "Climate for learning" (yuk) policy is very clear on the process which earns a detention. There is no mention of whole class detentions, and there is a clear elevation if more than one detention is given in a week, leading to the governors. I don't think they are going to elevate a whole science class to the governors somehow!

Delphiniumsblue Mon 17-Mar-14 22:22:17

It sounds like a very young teacher who has backed herself into a corner. Why not just phone her and discuss.

noblegiraffe Mon 17-Mar-14 22:27:03

It's not just unfair, it's now ineffective as if most of the class don't attend, it is unlikely that the culprit is going to be in the detention, or forced by the detention to own up. The teacher is going to have to back down, unfortunately for them.

steppemum Mon 17-Mar-14 23:11:31

I was all set to come on and say don't interfere if it is the first time. But every lunchtime till someone owns up is very over the top. I think I would phone the school and ask to speak to someone, perhaps head of year? and mention that this punishment seems to be a bit out of order and heavy handed.

I would send dd with note though.

MillyMollyMama Mon 17-Mar-14 23:22:06

If this sanction is not in the Policy, then send a letter saying DD will not do the detention, on that basis, and also contact the Head of Year explaining that you would back a detention as described in the school's Policy, where wrong doing is proven, but you cannot support a whole class detention which does not comply with the Climate for Learning Policy. Ask for their comments and observations.

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 18-Mar-14 09:28:07

This teacher is assuming that all children have a conscience and will not want their peers to be punished for something they did not do. Quite frankly as a secondary teacher they should know that some kids are sh*ts and wont care and some, from abusive homes, are too scared to get into any trouble at school - my DS has such a friend, he often does things then trys to get my son to take the blame so his Dad doesnt find out.

I'd send the letter personally but make clear that you are happy for her to be punished for things she HAS done if that is ever necessary

BlueSkySunnyDay Tue 18-Mar-14 09:28:57

Oh and you can bet that the parents of the child that did it were probably the first ones to write the letter and excuse him hmm

tiggytape Tue 18-Mar-14 09:30:33

I agree with Milly too
Behaviour policies usually have statements to say that group punishments will not be used or that sanctions will be fairly applied. A group detention goes against this and therefore this teacher will be acting against the policy the school has agreed.

I think it is important to raise these issues because apart from being incredibly lazy and ineffective, the sense of injustice young people feel about such punishments can have a detrimental impact even on the ones who don't normally misbehave.

MissMarplesBloomers Tue 18-Mar-14 09:34:03

If one child has been allowed to not do the detention, then the teacher has totally lost the whole effect (if there ever was any) of it being a whole class punishment.

She has now lost the respect of the whole class by her ineffectual & heavy handed punishment.

VenusDeWillendorf Tue 18-Mar-14 09:38:53

I'd write and phone.

The points you make about teachers putting off students is very relevant.

Maybe this new teacher is in the wrong profession, and needs guidance from management about the school's climate of learning.

Indefinite lunchtime detentions sounds like torture tbh, and may impact the group dynamic irrevocably.

Try and keep your Dds interest in science going!

Obviously the teacher has made a mistake here, but what do you suggest they do now? Not following through as a teacher is like not following through as a parent, only magnified by 30 - they have to teach this class for the rest of the year. How would you suggest they get themselves out of this situation?

Honestly, they will already be tying themselves in knots over this. I wouldn't phone.

BTW Venus, nice work writing off a new teacher's entire career based on one badly thought through decision, hmm.

pointythings Tue 18-Mar-14 10:00:07

KingThistle I can see only one solution:

Teacher is made to back down. Teacher is then transferred to another class because as you say the relationship with this class is now irrevocably damaged.

Then we will have to hope that the teacher learns from this and never does it again. This situation is entirely of her own making - she would definitely not have learned to do this in teacher training so she now needs to suck up the consequences, however tough that is. This wasn't a minor mistake, it was a major one.

You can't just transfer a teacher to another class! Seriously, that is not a simple process and would involve major disruption to 60 children.

And no Head would do that. If you swapped the classes of every teacher who made a mistake, secondary schools would be chaos.

At the root of this is a CHILD who behaved badly, not a teacher!

MillyMollyMama Tue 18-Mar-14 10:26:48

Poor decisions usually come back to bite schools. My DD was on a school trip and about 4 girls were badly behaved during the lunch stop. I was a parent helper on the trip and I knew exactly who was involved and what had happened. As the year group moved up the school, it was apparent that all the normal trips that had been run for years suddenly never ran for this year group. So the trips to France, Iceland, the theatre, art galleries etc never happened for 3 years, years 9-11. This was at an independent boarding school. A few parents were beginning to wonder what was going on but the majority did not know what the school had previously organised. However, only 24 of 64 girls stayed into the 6th form. You reap what you sow! Never punish pupils who are not involved!

pointythings Tue 18-Mar-14 10:29:31

Perhaps, but given that the child is not going to own up and that 29 other children who did nothing are being punished because of the teacher's incompetence, there need to be consequences for the teacher. There are mistakes and then there's this - it's a different order of things. I have zero sympathy for this teacher, if she does something like this she should not be teaching. It's an incredibly basic mistake and she should not have made it.

When I was at school I had a teacher who did exactly this, and she most certainly was swapped. That was back in the 80s though, when we still did common sense.

noblegiraffe Tue 18-Mar-14 10:31:02

If I were the teacher I would just make a comment along the lines of 'clearly I can't only have half of you in detention and as the culprit still hasn't owned up, unfortunately we won't be able to do any practicals until either they do own up, or you have shown me that I can trust you again' (or similar)

It depends on how keen the department is to track down the culprit. If it was really expensive I'd get everyone in the class to write down anonymously what they saw.

No need to swap classes or anything dramatic!

prh47bridge Tue 18-Mar-14 10:31:22

At the root of this is a CHILD who behaved badly, not a teacher

True but the problems are entirely down to the teacher's failure to handle the situation appropriately. Unless the culprit comes forward the teacher will have to back down. She cannot follow through. She cannot keep the class on lunchtime detention indefinitely. She has seriously undermined her own authority with this class. The question is whether she can get it back.

Pointythings you've never been in front of a class I take it? Have you any idea the pressure teachers are under at the moment? How many we're losing? You want to get rid of a teacher for making a mistake like this? There'd be none left.

I made disciplinary mistakes as a young teacher. Luckily I was in a school that supported me but that also allowed me to remedy situations with my dignity intact, something you clearly don't feel this teacher deserves. I learnt, and I went on to teach hundreds of students. Should I have thrown in the towel in my first term because I gave the wrong kid a detention?

Noblegiraffe that is exactly what I'd be doing too. prh47 is right, but SHE has to get back the authority. Anything else will have repercussions for a long long time that will benefit no-one.

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