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Find answers to questions below in the source text. The text gives information to parents about discipline in schools.


a) What kind of changes have taken place in British schools?

b) What does the law say about discipline in schools?

c) What is positive discipline?

d) How can schools punish bad behaviour? 


How will the school discipline my child?

Changes in schools

Behaviour and discipline are difficult areas for both families and schools. In the past, adults often focused on what to do if a child behaved badly. Punishments could be severe: slapping or beating children was considered effective and acceptable.

Today, corporal punishments such as caning and smacking are illegal in school and at home. Schools now focus on encouraging and rewarding good work and behaviour rather than trying to frighten children into obeying the teacher.

What the law says

All schools must now have a discipline policy based on principles agreed by the school governors. This policy must be made public by law. The government has now laid out that behaviour policies should fulfil the following critera:

Promote self-discipline and proper regard for authority among students.
Encourage good behaviour and respect for others.
Ensure students' standard of behaviour is acceptable.
Regulate students' conduct.

Positive discipline

Many teachers now use what is known as positive discipline. This involves using lots of praise to reinforce the message that good behaviour will help children to learn and enjoy school.

Using positive discipline, teachers will try to ignore negative behaviour unless it puts others in danger, or stops them from learning. In this way they avoid 'rewarding' bad behaviour with the attention the child wants. Instead they will notice and praise a child or a group who is working well, helping others or ready to go, rather than shouting at or punishing children who are not.

Small rewards, such as stickers, may be used to promote good behaviour over a period of time. These can build up to a bigger reward such as a certificate or even a class outing.

In this way, teachers work to build up a positive working atmosphere in the classroom, where children get attention for trying hard and behaving well. This helps to discourage poor behaviour and gives the teacher more time to work closely with children.


Of course, bad behaviour does still occur and schools need to make sure it is dealt with. Teachers will have their own approaches, but your child's school will also have a behaviour policy in place.

In some schools, children who misbehave may be asked to take 'time out' where they sit apart from the group, perhaps with a support teacher in another room. Making bad behaviour the centre of attention often encourages it: 'time out' removes the child from his audience and allows the other children to get on.

If sticker charts are being used, a negative mark on the chart may be used if a child misbehaves. A set number of negative marks will then lead to a consequence, such as the loss of a privilege or a meeting with senior staff or parents.

Importantly, the teacher will always explain what the child has done wrong and remind him of the consequences if he continues. Children will always be given a chance to put things right before a punishment is used.

If things go further

Punishments will be small at first, but the children will understand how they build up to further positive or negative consequences. They will be reminded of these and encouraged to make positive choices.

Schools do have the right to use detentions if students continue to behave badly. They must give you at least 24 hours' notice before keeping your child in detention.

This sanction works effectively only if it is supported by you. It's important to discuss what happened with your child and help him to take responsibility for what happened if he was in the wrong. Help your child to work out how he can avoid trouble in the future. Of course, if you feel a detention or any other action is unfair you should contact the school to discuss the issue.

Although physical punishment is illegal, teachers are allowed by law to use 'reasonable force' to prevent a child from

committing a crime
causing injury or damage
causing disruption
hurting himself.

If behaviour continues to get worse, or is violent, abusive or damaging, schools do have the right to exclude children, but this is a last resort. You will be contacted and involved long before problems go this far.

(BBC Schools - Parents)