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Zero tolerance policies towards bad behaviour in schools - good or bad?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by nomad, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    In the examples I gave, what action would you have suggested?
    Zero tolerance or not zero tolerance?
  2. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Zero tolerance is always zero tolerance.

    If it's only in certain situations, it isn't living up to its name.
    monicabilongame likes this.
  3. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Of all the 'old school' opinions on managing the behaviour of students who are in vulnerable situations, equating the demonstration of compassion and understanding with 'indulging' students is one that causes me the most frustration.
  4. NoseyMatronType

    NoseyMatronType Star commenter

    I don't know about other people but the methods described in this old publication have tended to work quite well with my classes.

    Plus, they've also proved helpful when it comes to dealing with senior management.

  5. defenceagainstthedarkarts

    defenceagainstthedarkarts Occasional commenter

    What would you propose, then, @lizziescat? That's intended as a genuine question, not an attempt to be sarcastic in any way.

    Stealing knives can hardly be ignored. It is very unfair to lay the blame for the subsequent suicide at the door of the school: I am sure they felt utterly wretched by the events, but they did not cause the death.

    Likewise, swearing at a teacher for a harmless comment is not something I would recommend ignoring.

    @Orkrider, you will not see me being overly draconian or harsh with sanctions or holding back with the compassion. I utterly hate the concept of most sanctions: they are ineffective for the most part and do nothing to change behaviour, which should be the overall aim.

    However, mental health illnesses are not caused by or cured by teachers. That is not to say that we shouldn't treat everybody with kindness and with respect - that's pretty much my daily ethos - but I do think sometimes the push on mental health and teaching assumes that it's as simple as a low mood that can be cured, or certainly helped, by kindness and compassion.

    Well, not in my world, I'm afraid! In my world, mental health illness is having a poo on the sofa, mental health illness is not recognising everyday items, mental health is jumping every time your phone rings as this time it might be "I'm sorry to tell you that ..." Mental health is sometimes getting frustrated but never ever show it because your mood is mimicked so very precisely by them. Mental health is a logic that is poles apart ("well yes, I did think it was 2013 and June but I HAD JUST WOKEN UP.") Mental health can be aggressive, can be scary, can be intimidating.

    None of that can be cured by me. I can help, but I can't cure. It vastly minimises my experiences when it is somehow suggested that a teacher not making a harmless comment or not sanctioning stealing dangerous weapons can help sort it.
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    The alternative to a zero tolerance policy does not involve ignoring behaviour.
    lizziescat and monicabilongame like this.
  7. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

  8. BelleDuJour

    BelleDuJour Star commenter

    Like who?
    Evidence please?
  9. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter


  10. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    You are very welcome.

    Large majority relate to USA where those policies have been in place since the mid-late 90s
    nomad likes this.
  11. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I spent some of this weekend listening to this https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00xj3rw/episodes/player
    It's a series devoted to discussing secret government papers as they become released, thirty years after the events they relate to. These papers give an insight into government thinking, lies and manipulation of events, despite pretending such events were outside government influence.

    One in particular that is related to this thread, was about football violence during the Thatcher years. The papers record that the government focused on the violence being an issue purely related to football and was apparently unable to draw any parallels with violence happening elsewhere at the same time, such as on picket lines and later, in the poll tax riots.
  12. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    I assume, as you have not explained what you would do in these circumstances, that you would have excluded in both of the examples I gave.

    There are alternatives to zero tolerance and ignoring. As @Scintillant said, not suspending a pupil does not mean doing nothing.
    In both cases I would have expected a more sophisticated and nuanced response which reflected the context of each act and recognised the potential fragility of a self harming/suicidal young mind and one that had a more positive (or at least a non fatal ) outcome

    In the second case (swearing) the misunderstanding was cleared up through talking and explaining what had (and hadn’t) happened, The pupil understood that the remark was not meant as he’d interpreted it. The teacher understood the pupils interpretation of the situation (and was appalled by it) There was a lesser punishment (apology, I think)
    I suspect that simply suspending the pupil would have left him with anger that a teacher had taunted him over his suicidal actions - hardly a beneficial scenario.
    In the first case (student who killed herself) the coroner did find the schools policy to be at fault and that the students death was “...contributed to by a failure to fully consider the implementation of their major behaviour policy and exclusion policy.”
    (I believe the head left soon after)
    Who has suggested that they are?
    (But we can help not to push them off the cliff.)

    Again, who has suggested this. Only that context might mean that a zero tolerance approach might be unwise, counter productive or fatal.

    I thought my post made it clear that although I have an instinctive bias towards zero tolerance, I recognise that it is not always so simple, I cannot accept that a rigid adherence to rules, in these contexts, which ignores information on mental health known to the school and which contribute to a child’s death is correct.
    I would say that even with a zero tolerance policy a child’s safety takes precedence ( I know @Scintillant ? has already pointed out that this is then not a zero tolerance policy)
  13. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    Errrrr........ yes me too.

    Except that.....errr.....then it isn’t.......

    oh .........muddying the waters again............

    ......why can’t life be simpler
    nomad likes this.
  14. circuskevin

    circuskevin Established commenter

    Armed police turned up in numbers in our street 18 months ago. Since crime is banned I wondered what was going on?

    Some lads were having a party in a house at the end of the street. They had let off some bottles of champagne outside. Apparently a policeman round the corner had heard this and mistaken it for gunfire.

    Guess what colour these lads were! Because of the goings on in the USA at the time I stood outside my house and watched proceedings. I waved to the police when they caught my eye. Cannot have them making any 'mistakes'!

    I walked through them at one point past one holding an automatic weapon.

    They spent a couple of hours there before leaving.

    Scintillant and grumpydogwoman like this.
  15. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    In my memory Zero Tolerance started by not ignoring any infringements of the law. To me that would mean that someone drinking from a can of beer on the street would have to pour the remains out and put the can in a litter bin. It was also associated with the physical environment where broken things were repaired very quickly so that the environment didn't degrade. Zero Tolerance doesn't have to be draconian in its use of sanction.
    JohnJCazorla and lizziescat like this.
  16. lizziescat

    lizziescat Star commenter

    AS @racroesus said.
    Zero tolerance is not a single concept. There are a number of definitions (as I think the discussion here demonstrates) . But it has become enshrined in eg if X then Y (usually draconian) punishment and that is how it has become an imoveable leviathanand with a highly politicised agenda ( as shown on the other zero tolerance thread)

    There are two types of behaviour management, effective and ineffective. All the other ‘labels’ eg zero tolerance, doing nothing etc are secondary to the concept of effectiveness.
    This is key. Whether doing ‘nothing’, ‘ something’ or zero tolerance to be meaningful and effective and thus effective (for all concerned). The 2 examples I gave, I think, showed ineffective zero tolerance and effective non-zero tolerance. (Ive also witnessed the reverse)
    I employed both zero tolerance and ‘doing nothing’ as well as a whole range in between. Both are excellent tactics in the right place. The skill of the teacher, head, policy maker etc. is having the judgement to know which to use and when. ( oh and it won’t be effective unless all involved understand and are on board)
    JohnJCazorla and bombaysapphire like this.
  17. palmtree100

    palmtree100 Lead commenter

    Yes and there are some children in every school whose behaviour merits the wake-up call that is exclusion. I don't see this as a weakness, more like proof that the SLT are actually doing something.
    bombaysapphire and JohnJCazorla like this.

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