“Draconian” detention policy
The government’s school behaviour tsar, Tom Bennett, has given his backing to a London school’s disciplinary guide that includes detentions for eye-rolling, wearing make-up and questioning decisions.
The Royal Docks Academy’s punishment regime was shared on Twitter to mixed response, with some users criticising it as “draconian” and “shocking”. The consequences chart listed the length of detention to be handed out for a variety of offences, ranging from 30 minutes to two hours. Mr. Bennett defended the strict rules as “pretty standard for many schools,” adding that “it’s fine, as *part* of a range of strategies”.
One hour of detention for questioning authority
Students at the Royal Docks Academy need to make sure they’re looking sharp; an untidy uniform will get them 30 minutes after school. Accessorising is strictly off limits though, with make-up and jewellery earning another half-hour each.
Having an unsigned planner is also a 30-minute offence – and any enterprising students who are a dab hand at forgery face two hours in detention if they get caught faking a signature.
Eye-rolling is an infraction on the same level as plagiarism and cheating in an assessment, with all of these resulting in a one-hour detention. Questioning a decision will also land students with an hour’s punishment – so best not to wonder why one of these offences seems a lot less serious than the other two.
Kissing teeth is bracketed in the most severe level of consequence listed on the chart, the two-hour detention. It sits – arguably somewhat uncomfortably – alongside theft, truancy and bullying.
Unfair on some students
Several tweets raised the point that this policy is potentially unfair on vulnerable and minority pupils, with one Twitter user commenting “punitive measures like these just end up encouraging “bad kids” (read: minority children whose behaviour is coded as “rude” and kids with busy parents) to play truant rather than rack up hours of detention”. She added that “neurodiverse students are punished by systems like this. Also, we don’t (usually) expect adults who are learning to sit still and silent all day every day, so why children?”.