A Centralised Detention System

No teacher, no matter how inspiring or well-versed, can get their students to reach their maximum potential if a classroom is consistently disrupted by poor behaviour.

This isn’t necessarily referring to extreme examples such as aggressive swearing or physical abuse – though those incidents are too common and must be treated with the severity they deserve. Instead, what we are referring to here is more low-level disruption – such as rudeness or turning up to school long after registration.

It is this kind of behaviour that is sometimes wrongly seen as trivial or not worthy of more than a stern word, but this attitude can lead to boundaries being consistently broken.

Sometimes, teachers can feel as though they are not supported by senior leaders in stamping out poor behaviour and are almost forced to let it slide. This can create an inconsistent behaviour management system that encourages children to test the boundaries of what they can get away with in each class, to the detriment of wider learning.

Different schools across the country have their own approaches to behaviour management and some work very well. One model that we believe deserves wider consideration is the model used by West London Free School. This is a “Centralised Detention System”.

This system is demanding, consistent and allows teachers to focus on teaching rather than behaviour management.

The system is built upon a few simple rules:

  • Detention is held every day and students do detention the same day that they are given it. This means that the consequence of their actions is immediate. Parents are informed via email as soon as the detention is given.
  • Detention is held by middle and senior leaders rather than teachers so students understand the consequences of their actions and teachers aren’t spending their time holding detention.
  • Detentions are given consistently for the same reasons everywhere in the school, meaning there are no questions over whether one teacher is ‘easier’ to misbehave with.
  • No other detentions take place except in extreme circumstances when isolation is required.

The benefits are obvious. For the pupils, everyone knows where they stand and parents know the system is fair and robustly enforced by staff. Pupils become self-compliant with the system, knowing that there is no wiggle room and that detentions are always operated. For teachers, it means that they are free at break and lunch to have a break rather than run their own detentions and all staff, no matter their experience level, know that they are supported by the school and that they all use the same simple system.

Members of our Advisory Council spoke about this with several national and regional radio stations yesterday, and you can listen to all of the conversations here:

Rachel Wolf – Radio 5 Live – 6:40AM (43:55)

Hywel Jones – Radio 5 Live – 7:20AM (1:19:09)

Rachel Wolf – BBC Tees – 9:30AM (37:06)

Claire Heald – BBC Kent – 11:10AM (2:10:49)

Rachel Wolf – BBC Northampton – 12:15PM (20:21)

Claire Heald – BBC Three Counties – 3:10PM (9:06)