I am pretty appalled by the new guidelines on how to deal with bad behaviour in schools, issued yesterday by the Department for Education, which say that pupils should be praised five times more than they are criticised or rebuked. The new guidelines also recommend that disruptive or difficult pupils should be praised or given prizes for improvements in behaviour. Quite rightly this prescriptive approach from Whitehall has been heavily criticised by teachers as nonsense.
Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, told the BBC Today programme that "Crude guidelines which say praise in proportion to punishment of five to one simply aren't helpful. It's a nonsense - it takes away any sense of professional autonomy, professional respect and professional judgment for teachers. The principle of rewarding someone for being good... that principle I wholly endorse and support. But if they are behaving badly then you have to deal with that behaviour and any sense of ratio of five-to-one simply is a nonsense."
Alan Smithers, Professor of Education at the University of Buckingham said the approach being recommended might encourage perverse behaviour. Children who had previously behaved well might play to try to win rewards.
I believe guidelines of discipline and codes of conduct for pupils and parents should be left to the Headteachers to draw up, depending on their own school's environment, performance and make-up. It is time for the Secretary of State for Education to get out of the classroom and leave it to the professionals.