• Charli


I have started writing this while on lunchtime detention duty at school. It’s all my fault really – in a bid to assert my standing at the school I opted to monitor lates.

The consequence of a pupil being late 3x in a week: Friday-Thursday is detention at lunch time on a Thursday.

I have printed off some punishment exercises or offered the option of doing homework. One is doing homework 3 are writing out some tedious rules about behaviour.

When behaviour escalates and a child has to be excluded one of the phrases that can be used is ‘Persistant Disobedience’. I do find this term archaic but what else sums up consequences of constant bad behaviour?

Quite shockingly when I was at school we used to get the belt for ‘misdemeanours’ such as talking out of turn or being late to the line at the end of break or lunch.

Imagine the outcry today – an 11 year old girl having to withstand 6 excruciating hits on the hand with a thick thong of leather, nastily split at the end to ensure maximum painful coverage.

It didn’t happen often but when it did I would stand proud, fighting back the tears while the belt came down 3x on each hand. The pain was awful but the humiliation so much worse.

I would return to my seat, hands shaking feeling sick but determined not to let it show.

All of this at a Catholic primary school. Moving to a non-denominational private secondary school at least afforded relief from this bully-ish and totally unnecessary form of punishment.

Reflecting now -the only thing that endeared me to my secondary school was the fact that corporal punishment would not have been tolerated. Sexism, homophobia and borderline paedophilea not a problem but not obvious physical assault, no.

So today I gently admonished the 3x late arrivals with a boring punishment exercise and a request not to see them next week. We’ll see if this has an impact. I rather hope my empathic and open approach will impact on their behaviour/ lateness than any negative sanction is expected to achieve.

Punishment – a poem

Listen, shh. Walk don’t talk.

They are watching now but will they stalk?

Write it down and apologise

keep your head down – be wise

follow the rules why shake it up?

Play the game and then stop.

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