Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
Forum 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 
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?


Your reaction

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.
Jon, UK

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?
Harry, Germany



So educating parents in child raising and responsibility can be a way that community can work for both child and parent.

Rob, Australia
There must be a multi pronged approach to disruptive children. There is a trend away from seeing the unruly child as just a victim of dysfunctional home life and accountability of parents is slowly surfacing again. Here independent non-government schools where parents pay for their child's education are booming. So educating parents in child raising and responsibility can be a way that community can work for both child and parent as well as stick and carrot measures for parents to be involved with their child's behaviour and learning.
Rob, Australia

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.
John R, UK

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.
Peter Robinson, England

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.
John Dooner, UK



I find it hard to ignore their behaviour and find it insulting that I have to share a classroom with such people.

Ruth Ashburner, England
As a pupil in a school where there are "unruly" pupils, I find it hard to ignore their behaviour and find it insulting that I have to share a classroom with such people. Why shouldn't they be removed!
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.
My child has ADHD and school has been sheer hell. I can't wait for him to leave in the summer. School days should be the happiest days of a child's life, but instead all we have had is the constant threat of expulsion. Putting a child in a "sin bin" only reinforces that a child is "naughty" and does nothing to deal with the real problem.
Lesley, United Kingdom



I am sure that most of these children and young people are part of families that have a very difficult life.

Caroline Davies, France
I am sure that most of these children and young people are part of families that have a very difficult life. The root causes of so much violence is poverty and social exclusion. We are talking about families where daily life is one hard struggle to find enough food to eat, decent clothes that their children can wear without shame, calm conditions for where children can do their homework in houses or flats which are too often too cramped, damp or noisy.
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.
Bryan Lawrence, England

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.
Nasif Rafiq, Palestine

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.
Devika, Malaysia

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.
Anonymous

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 away with.
My parents were quite strict with me, but that did not deter me from "seeking attention". If there was such a deterrent such as a sin bin, I would have considered my actions before being in anyway disruptive.
N Rai, England



We should not be wasting valuable resources or be risking the education of those who do wish to join in.

Neil, Norway
Those who do not wish to be part of main stream society should not be forced to. They have a choice if they wish to have a comfortable life. Join in or be thrown out. We should not be wasting valuable resources or be risking the education of those who do wish to join in.
Neil, Norway

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?
Bethan, UK

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.
Speaking to the current Head at that school he said that the anecdotal evidence suggests that the level of disruptive pupils has stayed pretty constant...
Edward, England



An initiative to raise the standards of parenting is really called for - teaching the consequences of indulging a child's disruptive behaviour.

Mick Curtis, England
The reason so many expelled pupils end up in the criminal justice system is because of their antisocial behaviour which is let loose on other children if they are kept in a typical school.
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".
George, USA



Make the child understand it is his particular behaviour that put him in and not because he himself is unacceptable to the class.

Sarah Dahanayake, Sri Lanka
I believe this is a step forward. None outside the school system understands the strain on teachers these unruly children develop. On the other hand schools not for the good people only. Children learn many things in school like how to live and let live.
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).
Set up military-style academies and place all the incorrigible youths in those. Require them to live on premises during the week to prevent truancy and wear uniforms BUT keep the educational standards high (and fire the idiots who act like the teachers from THE WALL).
Educate them in spite of themselves! I certainly wish we could do this in the USA, but the bed-wetting left-wing politicos seem to think that people have a RIGHT to cause havoc! Go figure...
Csanad, USA

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.
Emma Waddington, New Zealand



Schools are being seen increasingly, not as an educational institution, but as a shopping mall for social services.

Jeff, USA
Mr. Blunkett's proposals will make the teachers' jobs harder, will disrupt other children's' education and could lead to an increase in violence in schools and incidents such as the Columbine Massacre.
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.
Jeff, USA

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.
Philip Bartlett, USA

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.
Jennifer Maguire, USA



Much can be achieved by quietly taking the child aside and being prepared to listen.

Simon Cameron, UK
Sin bins may be an option but I favour one-on-one counselling. The child's behaviour is so often influenced by factors unknown to teachers. Much can be achieved by quietly taking the child aside and being prepared to listen, in a wholly non-judgemental atmosphere, while the child is allowed to state his case in full.
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.
Alex, Scotland

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.
And indeed, most kids who were sent to "the pit" found it within themselves to not again do what prompted them to be sent there in the first place. Of course, a generation later, the politically correct excessively sensitive school board decided to do away with it because it was considered "too harsh" a punishment. A pity.
Stephen Kenney, USA

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.
Robin Parkinson, England

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?
Andrew Marks, UK



I believe it makes the pupils ridicule the system, and therefore cause them to be more disruptive in the class.

Mark Arnull, England
As an ex pupil of a comprehensive school, in 1999, I have seen this method in use. I believe it makes the pupils ridicule the system, and therefore cause them to be more disruptive in the class. Pupils will learn if they want to.
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.
With a background in distance education I think it would an interesting experiment to create a sort of "video detention" program. In this program a school could use internet-based videoconferencing to allow students to sit in on their classes from another area of the school. The student would be removed from the social pressures of the classroom but still be responsible for all content.
B.A. Lopez, USA



By simply ousting them from the schools you will be pushing them to an extreme act.

Muhammad Akram Malik, Pakistan
You just cannot throw out the unruly children out of the schools. You need to follow the stick and carrot policy to allow them time to change their behaviour. By simply ousting them from the schools you will be pushing them to an extreme act which can damage both their families and them as an individual. Throwing them out can be the last resort.
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?
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

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?
Jennifer Shaw, England



Keeping them in the school simply undermines the authority of every teacher there.

Colin Smith, UK
Yet again schools, their staff, and pupils are being asked to deal with badly behaved children while the parents of those children get away scott free.
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".
This government continues to debate topics and brings in new legislation which, under the Human Rights Act, will become null and void.
Tim, UK

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.
It is not only classroom disruption that is an issue, it is the bullying tactics and intimidation of weaker students outside the classroom that is also a major problem. It is an issue that must be dealt with quickly because it is affecting the lives and future of countless children.
Graham, United States

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.
Chris, UK



For these unruly children it appears to me that it might be better to use more activity and hands on learning.

Dr. Peter Matthews, Canada
As a child psychiatrist I am familiar with the problem of school suspension and have been concerned about what to do about the unruly child for many years.
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



It seems to me that disruptive pupils will just be put in a different class with lots of other disruptive classmates.

Mike, England
I must confess to being unsure exactly how these proposed "Sin Bins" aim to improve things. It seems to me that disruptive pupils will just be put in a different class with lots of other disruptive classmates.
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.
Mike, England

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.
Andrew Day, UK



Misbehave, disrupt the class and receive private personalised tuition!

Jenni, UK
That's a good idea - misbehave, disrupt the class and receive private personalised tuition! Is this the message that we really want to send to these children? That the way to be noticed and receive the attention that that they crave is by misbehaviour, not by effort or achievement? Most of these children are crying out for the care and attention their parents deny them - it's the parents who need educating before they have problem children.
Jenni, UK

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.
Tristran Fenchurch-Travis, UK

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.
Judith, England

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.
Gerry, Scotland



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!

Bob, UK
As a concerned parent wanting the best education for my four children, I completely support the introduction of "sin bins". Disruptive pupils dilute the general education process, one of the most important processes in our lives.
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.
Bob, UK

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.
Alex, Scotland

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.
Exclusion is a clandestine way of moving the problem on. If these specialist units can cope and deal with the problems effectively then they are good and should be both developed and cherished. Otherwise it is yet another way of wasting time, money and energy whilst retaining the problem, just like successive governments have done for years.
DEM, UK



The best way to deal with repetitive unruly pupils is to place them in Victorian Style disciplinary schools.

Tim G, UK
The best way to deal with repetitive unruly pupils is to place them in Victorian Style disciplinary schools. These should be special state run schools with carefully selected teachers which retain the use of corporal punishment for unruly and disruptive behaviour.
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.
Why would a child care about getting into trouble at school when the minute they go home their parents will just turn a blind eye. I'm not sure what the solution is but this must be a good start
Carol, UK



A one-size-fits-all solution will never work.

Brendan Fernandes, UK
A one-size-fits-all solution will never work. Some children are just plain disruptive and need to be dealt with, together with their parents, via a justice system with real teeth. Other pupils may just need extra encouragement or firmer discipline.
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

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

26 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
More 'sin bins' for unruly pupils
19 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
Disruption teachers are dealing with
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Links to other Talking Point stories