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Thursday, 4 May, 2000, 11:31 GMT 12:31 UK
Should unruly pupils be removed from school?
The Education Secretary, David Blunkett, wants to cut the number of pupils in England expelled from school for bad behaviour, so he is setting up more "sin bins" within schools.
These are specialist support units, so that disruptive pupils can be removed from their classes but kept within mainstream schooling.
The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers does not think the Government understands how difficult these youngsters are to deal with, and that keeping them within school grounds is not the solution.
However Mr Blunkett thinks that for most children "off the premises" means off education, off life - because over 70% of those who are permanently excluded actually end up in the criminal justice system.
Do you think "sin bins" are the best way to deal with pupils who refuse to behave, or should they be removed from school altogether?
Education provided by the taxpayer is a luxury only relatively recently enjoyed by all members of the UK. Frankly if someone chooses not to avail themselves of the opportunity properly I would expel them - if they really are not willing to work at school then let them go - why waste the money?
If we had a law and order policy that was sufficiently severe then any of the non-attendees who decided crime was more attractive could be suitably dealt with.
And who is going to put his or her job on the line to put a child in the sin bin if the child refuses to go? The odds are stacked against the teacher in this nanny state of low morals.
Bad behaviour is the symptom of one or more underlying problems. Addressing the cause and not the effect will give the cure. Unfortunately the problem has been allowed to get worse for many years. The cure may take just as long, that is, once a good diagnosis has been made. Who knows what a realistic answer is? I don't. Does anyone?
The disruptive ones affect the learning process for those that want to succeed. If they are expelled they end up as criminals, further degrading the quality of life for the law-abiding.
Lennox Lewis runs a school for excluded children. He manages to provide an environment in which they can learn and get an education that would not normally be available to them outside the State system. These children just need the right environment in which to learn. Exclusion helps no one. Taking disruptive children out off normal classes may help stop the downward spiral into crime and anti-social behaviour.
There will be children who can not function too well in mainstream school with rigid curriculum demands. Blunkett now states that he wishes to see the curriculum freed up and return some professional decision making to teachers regarding the what and how of teaching. It saddens me to think how many kids have been excluded or "turned off" school by the rigid constraints of the national curriculum Thursday last did nothing to increase the sum total of understanding.
I deserve a good education and I don't see how that can be possible when I have to put up with childish, and sometimes dangerous behaviour from some of my class mates. Teachers are being forced to give their attention to unruly pupils and others who do want to learn for their future and being pushed aside. It's not fair on pupils like me who are prepared to work!!!
Ruth Ashburner, England
Sin bins are not the answer to disruptive pupils. There is always a reason behind the child's behaviour, be it an unhappy life at home, a known medical condition such as ADHD. There should be more small specialist schools made available.
Yes young people can be violent, but you have to realise that the injustices that poor people face every day are an act of violence against them. One young person told us "Many of us have been labelled 'retards' and have been placed in special classes. We've almost never gone to school with the other children. We are channelled into paths that seem like dead-end tunnels with no exit."
Excluding these pupils even more by creating special classes is not going to solve anything.
Caroline Davies, France
Why do some children 'disrupt' school? School is not compulsory in this country. Some children are just not suited to a closed-in school environment. They should be allowed to pursue their education in different ways. School is just a building. Education is something else.
I think that the unruly pupils should be removed from their classes, but they should be called for make up and evaluation test hours on weekend days, so that they can concentrate. I used this method which proved amazingly practical, but I emphasize that the well prepared lesson and the qualified teacher are the main factors in preventing pupils disruption.
Generally children who behave in an unruly manner want to be recognised for all sorts of reasons ranging from lack of parental affection, broken homes etc. To find out the cause of such behaviour is therefore paramount. To put them in a separate class to get at the root of the matter would be a good idea. But to call it a "sin bin" may not be a good start as it be demoralising to the child and thus adding on to the already existing problems. Perhaps call it a reform class and importantly get the parents or whoever is responsible for the child involved in these classes.
From grade 1 to 6 during class I was taken out of the classroom for a few hours and let me tell you it didn't work...I just became more hostile and insulted and in the end, I made things even more difficult for them. Afterwards, in grade 7 there was no more of that and my behaviour improved significantly, so much so that I was given the 'Most Improved Student Award' in grade 8, and all because I wasn't taken out of classrooms; it was very humiliating.
I think that the idea of a sin bin is
definitely the right idea. I myself was quite
a disruptive pupil, and at the time I
remember just how much I could get
As a teacher that has been assaulted by a pupil whilst at school, I'm all in favour of these sin-bins. Now what about a return to corporal punishment?
I see that a couple of replies mention corporal punishment. It doesn't work! We had plenty of disruptive kids at my school, years ago, and the corporal punishment factor didn't seem to make much difference to them.
The sin bin approach allows them the freedom to traumatise other children. But a special school for disruptive children brings like-minded disruptive pupils together in one place and stigmatises them.
So it is a "no win" situation. Prevention is better than cure. An initiative to raise the standards of parenting is really called for - teaching the consequences of indulging a child's disruptive behaviour; although I can see that this is a simplistic model of a complex issue.
Mick Curtis, England
Send them offsite, make their school days 50% longer, add compulsory community service, and see if behaving in a "normal" school doesn't seem preferable even to the most "unruly" child. Sometimes what we call an "out of control" child is really a child who is "in control".
In this regard I believe this "Sin Bin" is a step forward, provided the teacher really cares about the child's well being and make the child understand it is his particular behaviour that put him in and not because he himself is unacceptable to the class. As long as the two, the one who send the child into the "sin bin" and the child who goes in has understood each other correctly, things will turn out ok. I was a teacher and a principal.
Sarah Dahanayake, Sri Lanka
Education is not a right but a privilege and should be treated as such. However, the facts speak for themselves - the ignorant end up as criminals (so much for the "ignorance is bliss" theory).
I am in favour of the children who want to learn not being distracted by children who do not. But I believe that the parents have to be forced to take more ownership and responsibility. The "sin bin" should become a place for re-educating and re-establishing the family unit so that
these sin bin kids are able to move back to mainstream.
The role of schools is to educate, not baby-sit and schools are being seen increasingly, not as an educational institution, but as a shopping mall for social services.
What do you expect when Britain has completely lost its Christian principles and traditions? There went your empire! Corporal punishment should be reinstated in schools.
Sin bins sound like a great idea. Not only are disruptive students prevented from hindering their classmates, they're also kept off the streets during the school day. That means they're not stealing your garden equipment, egging your house, or painting your poodle for 6 whole hours every day.
This doesn't help the disruptive students, of course, but it sure helps everybody else.
The teacher should then wisely and calmly dispense personalised advice in a firm but kindly manner, taking appropriate punitive measures if strictly required. These sessions should be repeated until the child mends his ways. But segregating him from his classmates or expelling the child is humiliating for him and in all but extreme cases is probably unnecessary.
Simon Cameron, UK
I wholly sympathise with today's teachers, as they have absolutely no effective means of controlling class troublemakers. As teachers cannot even lay a finger on a pupil these days, without some civil liberties "expert" coming down on them like a tonne of bricks, then the only alternative option is to have the disruptive pupil removed from the class, so that those pupils who do want to work can do so without interruption.
When I was a teenager, at my school we had
a penalty area called "the pit" for students who
were unruly. It was a dramatic name, but in reality
it was essentially a indoor holding area on campus where
unruly kids were given unenjoyable tasks like
being required to sit in silence for hours while staring
at the wall or whatever, but it was a midway between
full attendance and expulsion, most kids were there for only a day or so.
As a Chair of Governors at a primary school, the situation can be inflamed by the actions of the parents or guardians of the child. Keeping the child within the school where the parent is aggressive or violent is a risk to both staff and pupils.
Behave at school or face 12 months military national service upon leaving. The choice is yours. Why should this minority ruin the educational environment for non-disruptive pupils who wish to succeed?
You may find that some pupils require counselling, because of their behaviour, which could be caused because of their social background. I myself work on a youth project recycling computers for the use of young people in the community. We have about 20 regular members, each have a different story to tell. One member was discussing his life at home over our internal chat system, he didn't know who he was talking to, but he opened and told his story. This shows how different social backgrounds affects a pupil's attitude to education.
Mark Arnull, England
I've often thought that removing a pupil from all contact with the educational process will not solve any problems. The student only falls further behind in the current situations.
Muhammad Akram Malik, Pakistan
The sound-bite political culture as demonstrated by the use of phrases such as "sin bins" is effectively destroying the debate over education in the UK. Is this a good example to set our children?
Surely the majority of these children shouldn't be behaving like this in the first place and that it's their parents that need educating?
I think that children who are found to have wrongly accused teachers of malpractice should be automatically excluded from schools. Keeping them in the school simply undermines the authority of every teacher there.
Other badly behaved pupils should be dealt with by parents. How about a report card for parents?
Colin Smith, UK
This is not even a point that should be debated in this country. Under the new European Human Rights Act, which the UK has signed up to, it will become illegal to remove children from school. It will be a breach of their "Right to Fair Education".
No sin bins, they should be in special schools away from other students. There are too many problems in school for the ordinary child to contend with anyway. These yahoos and misfits should be taken out of the system.
Sin bins? Oh please! And let me guess, they'll be fitted with pool tables and televisions just like our prisons. It's about time the government gets serious on discipline and while they're at it, consider getting serious about education too. Our children deserve better than this.
The unruly child, suspensions, corporal punishment and bullying debates are all linked and seem to have something to do with the educational offerings. For these unruly children it appears to me that it might be better to use more activity and hands on learning rather than seat work for 80% + of the day.
Children do learn best what they are interested in and they are less likely to be a nuisance to others when they have tasks to do that they find appealing and rewarding.
Dr. Peter Matthews, Canada
Whilst this may possibly solve the problems that disruption causes to mainstream classes, I can't see it helping those that are moved into the Sin Bins. I suppose it is a better solution than expulsion, but until the government addresses the core problem then we will always have disruptive pupils.
Unruly children (a very small minority) can't be allowed to disrupt the education of their peers. They also can't be allowed to roam the streets committing crime and learning nothing, so "sin bins" seem like the best solution.
I cannot believe what soft touches we have become since the good old days of corporal punishment in the schools of this country. As an ex-headmaster myself, I know how effective a good thrashing can be in encouraging manners, concentration and self-discipline - Blunkett's sin bins are typical of the wishy-washy liberalism which has taken root in the British politics of today.
I think the problem stems from the system of national education. Compulsory attendance laws result in state schools within which hundreds of diverse individuals are crammed every day. Can you seriously blame some of them for going nuts? This sin bin idea is just trying to mask the real issue, we need to move away from rigid state education towards more flexibility and choice.
Isn't it ironic that our spoilt little darlings are causing disruption at the same time that millions of children worldwide cannot get a place at a school. It pains me to say it but since we banned the belt (and I supported that move) certain children have just got out of control.
Now all we need to do is to rename prisons "society sin bins" and unruly children will be able to make the leap from the school prison to the real thing in one easy step! It isn't a coincidence that 70% of those who refuse to behave in school lessons go on to refuse to obey the law later. The teachers fault? Try looking first at the parental control during the early years of any child's life.
Of course these kids should be removed. Not only do they present a real physical danger to teachers and pupils, but their disruption can seriously hamper the advance of the learning of their intellectually/socially superior classmates.
Doubtless there are many studies into why the children cause problems. Shouldn't the root cause of these problems be addressed as opposed to alienating these children with the effect of causing them and society more problems in the future.
In this way the young hooligans are given a harsh disciplined education, while all the well-behaved children are given a normal education.
Tim G, UK
I think pupils need to be taught that they can't just get away with whatever they want anymore. Everyone knows that pupils have no respect for schools/teachers anymore but this is hardly surprising as the schools have no back-up from the parents.
Either way, the keener pupils should not be caught in the crossfire. All these factors should be considered when deciding how to deal with an unruly child, over and above the usual "political" factors.
Brendan Fernandes, UK
26 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
More 'sin bins' for unruly pupils
19 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
Disruption teachers are dealing with
12 Apr 00 | Education
Excluded pupils 'at risk of delinquency'
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