Is kindness the answer to poor behaviour?

Could it be that a chat during the school day would serve a child better than a detention at the end of it? Recent letters to The Guardian in response to Tom Bennett’s report for the government on behaviour issues in schools, suggest a kinder approach is a much more powerful tool for changing behaviour than punishment or ignoring the problem.

Bennett’s latest report accuses head teachers of covering up behaviour problems in order to paint their schools in a better light for Ofsted. Bennett came to this conclusion because of the striking difference between Ofsted reports and the experiences of school teachers, some of which he put down to the differences in recording of data. Some schools he noted mark lateness as poor behaviour while others don’t.

According to the Guardian, “The report – Creating A Culture: How School Leaders Can Optimise Behaviour – concludes that there is no silver bullet to tackling disruptive conduct.”

In response to Bennett’s report review in The Guardian, one reader wrote, “We need our schools to foster respect for others and this involves getting people – children, teachers and parents – to take responsibility for their actions and make amends for any harm caused. Such a restorative approach has been shown to be far more powerful in creating a positive school ethos than dishing out punishments.

Talking things through takes time, but if we are to address bullying, racism, vandalism, violence, rudeness and lesson disruption in schools, children need to understand the impact of their behaviour on others. This is rarely achieved by staying late at the end of the day.”

Prince George will be starting school in September at the Thomas’s Battersea School, which proudly states its most important rule is to be kind.

Punishment doesn’t work. It’s been proven. You only have to look across the water to the US to see that zero tolerance policies are failing in schools. Isn’t it time we shifted the moral compass back towards kindness? Teaching social responsibility can only be a good thing and that includes how we treat each other.

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