Adverts recruiting prison guards to control behaviour in schools has a similar whiff of the old troops to teachers campaign a few years ago. The idea that a regimented, strict and controlling approach for children is what schools require is beginning to become mainstream. The underlying message here suggests our schools are out of control, and the behaviour of bad apples is ruining education for the majority . The answer is to create schools that are like prisons then everyone can learn. Because these prison guards won’t be used for ‘our’ children, just those who are future criminals. Like Minority Report, let’s start early as predicting which children will require controlling by these prison guards in school is relatively simple.
If we use exclusion figures these children are usually boys (like prisons), have SEND (like prisons), are often from black Caribbean origin (like prisons) and are disadvantaged socio-economically (like prisons). The answer then is to make schools stricter, to use behaviour techniques taken from prisons and then the rest of us will be safe and can learn effectively while ‘those’ children are seen marching up and down the corridors, giving the guards ’50’ press ups in the playground.
The language of crime has reached our schools, social isolation like solitary confinement, litter picking, no longer a soft consequence for behaviour done alongside the only other person who continuously picks up litter, the headteacher. Now it is ‘community service’ as quoted by the head of OFSTED, Amanda Spielman. Children are called offenders, repeat offenders and the narrative that the rest of ‘us’ must be kept safe from these child criminals.
In pupil referral units and more serious youth offending establishments, love is a word you hear regularly. Soft approaches to help these children, unconditional positive regard is popular. It seems to be in some mainstream schools where we’re hearing of the more shocking behaviour tactics, sitting in booths all day with three toilet breaks and guarded by staff, supervised to get lunch before returning to booths to eat alone. No slouching, no heads on arms, no looking around, just facing the wall. None of these things matter to the rest of us,it is these children who are the future criminals and must be kept away from the majority so we are safe to learn uninterrupted.
The DFE’s behaviour tsar once accused schools of creating a group of crypto-pathologies, meaning children were being labelled with disorders such as ADHD and dyslexia as an excuse for poor behaviour or being unable to read. Perhaps what is of more concern, is how the current behaviour management trend is creating a culture of crypto-criminalising children?
Maybe we should just put them in the chokey and throw away the key.