No to zero tolerance

Zero tolerance and ‘positive discipline’ are resulting in huge spikes in the number of exclusions. There must be another way...

When discussing the needs of a group of students with SEN, a headteacher from a large multi-academy trust (MAT) in the North of England took my breath away.

He explained how students feel when “someone is treated differently to them”. He said this was an important reason to maintain his school’s rigid Behaviour Policy with everyone, irrespective of need.

It appeared that, in his view, a zero tolerance school approach was a democratic entitlement for all. There would be no adjustments, reasonable or otherwise.

We know that this approach has taken root in many schools, particularly in secondary education. We know that some individuals and MATs have built reputations for themselves, sponsored by government and others, on the back of the “positive discipline” doctrine.

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