Authoritarian Schooling: A Catalogue of Damage compiled by David Gribble

 
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And in 2010: Punishments

Extracts from interviews conducted in 2010 with twenty students, aged between 11 and 15, who had transferred to Sands School, Ashburton, because of their experiences at other schools.


'What sort of punishments did you have?'

'They had things like X1 and X2 and X3 so if you talked back to a teacher then you'd probably get an X1, I think it is, and then you'd keep going, and X2 if you did it again, and then after a certain amount, I think it's an X3, you get a detention, and then you can also get isolation, which is when you have to sit in a white room for an amount of time in the day, and even sometimes the whole day, and just do work, and it's just like a white room with a person watching you. It just seems kind of strange.'

'Were you ever sent to the white room?'

'As I was only at that school for less than a term I was never sent to the white room, but I heard lots of stories about it, and I still know people who go there now, and they always get sent to it, and it doesn't seem the right punishment, because you don't seem to be giving back to the school like at Sands, where your punishments kind of fit what you've done, but there it's just like a white room, and it doesn't really make sense at all.'

'So if you didn't go to lessons you could get suspended and so prevented from going to lessons?'

'Yeah, you could get suspended from school and there were certain places where you could be isolated, you could be in almost like another building where you could go if you got into enough trouble, which some people enjoyed going to because it's sort of quieter, smaller, more friendly I think, almost, and I just think that it was pointless when you could just be given some more chances.'

 

'Did you get into trouble?'

'Yeah.'

'What happened to you?'

'I got an X1 which is part of this rule, where there's a set of four warnings, so you get an X1, an X2, an X3 you get a detention, an X4 you get after-school detention, X5 you have to forfeit a GCSE.'

'X5 you have to forfeit a GCSE?'

'Yeah, that's if you, like to do that you have to be really quite bad.'

 

'In one of my schools if I didn't finish my maths in time, or any lesson in time, I would have to do it over break. There were days when I didn't have a single break. Because I had to do the work and I was so stuck. It was long multiplication. Back then I was so bad at that.'

'Well, there was always break time detentions, which meant you spent the whole of your break standing outside the staff room facing a wall and being constantly watched over by teachers coming in and out of the staff room, and then there was lunch-time detentions, which I was quite commonly in. You had to sit in an office watched by either if it was just a small detention, not for something too serious it would be just a normal teacher sitting and watching you while you did some work but if it was something to a larger extent of bad behaviour you'd have to go to the deputy head mistress, and sit in a room and have a long lecture, which literally for students who are rebelling goes in one ear and out the other, and then do work and your parents got phoned, and you got put on report if you were really bad, which means you had to take a report card to each lesson and they had to document your behaviour in each lesson. It was pretty pathetic, I think.'

'You said you were quite often punished. What did you think while you were standing with your face to the wall?'

'I suppose when I first had it done to me I felt embarrassed and awkward that I was being punished, but then I was quite young, and then I just started to think, this is making me want to rebel more because if I'd been told what I'd done wrong and talked to about it like an equal, I would probably have chosen to apologise, and possibly do what they wanted without being told to do it so many times. I felt that if I was being detained a lot or anything, it made me even more angry, which made me want to rebel more, and it just didn't work for me.'

 


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