School Discipline

School discipline is the system of rules, punishments and behavioral strategies appropriate to the regulation of children and the maintenance of order in schools. Its aim is to control the students actions and behavior.

An obedient student is in compliance with the school rules and codes of conduct. These rules may, for example, define the expected standards of clothing, timekeeping, social behaviour and work ethic. The term discipline is also applied to the punishment that is the consequence of breaking the rules. The aim of discipline is to set limits restricting certain behaviors seen as harmful.

Historical attitudes to School Discipline
Corporal punishment
Throughout the history of education the most common means of maintaining discipline in schools was corporal punishment. While a child was in school, a teacher was expected to act as a substitute parent, with many forms of parental discipline or rewards open to them. This often meant that students were commonly chastised with the birch, cane, paddle or strap if they did something wrong.

Corporal punishment in schools has now disappeared from most Western countries, including all European countries. Thirty U.S. states have banned it, the others (mostly in the South) have not. Paddling is still used to a significant (though declining) degree in some public schools in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Private schools in these and most other states may also use it, though many choose not to do so.

Official corporal punishment, often by caning, remains commonplace in schools in some Asian, African and Caribbean countries.

Most mainstream schools in most other countries retain punishment for misbehaviour, but it usually takes non-corporal forms such as detention and suspension.

Modern methods
School discipline practices are generally informed by theory from psychologists and educators. There are a number of theories to form a comprehensive discipline strategy for an entire school or a particular class.

    Positive Approach is grounded in teachers' respect for students. Instills in students a sense of responsibility by using youth/adult partnerships to develop and share clear rules, provide daily opportunities for success, and administer in-school suspension for noncompliant students. Based on Glasser's Reality Therapy. Research (e.g., Allen) is generally supportive of the PAD program.

    Teacher Effectiveness Training differentiates between teacher-owned and student-owned problems, and proposes different strategies for dealing with each. Students are taught problem-solving and negotiation techniques. Researchers (e.g., Emmer and Aussiker) find that teachers like the programme and that their behaviour is influenced by it, but effects on student behaviour are unclear.

    Adlerian approaches is an umbrella term for a variety of methods which emphasize understanding the individual's reasons for maladaptive behavior and helping misbehaving students to alter their behavior, while at the same time finding ways to get their needs met. Named for psychiatrist Alfred Adler. These approaches have shown some positive effects on self-concept, attitudes, and locus of control, but effects on behavior are inconclusive (Emmer and Aussiker). Not only were the statistics on suspensions and vandalism significant, but also the recorded interview of teachers demonstrates the improvement in student attitude and behaviour, school atmosphere, academic performance, and beyond that, personal and professional growth.

    The Student Responsibility Center (SRC) discipline process was evaluated for effectiveness in five participating K-12 public schools. SRC was evaluated in terms of meeting the six systems-thinking criteria, the number of suspensions and/or expulsions, the number of discipline referrals to the SRC classroom, and the perceptions of the learning community concerning the use of this discipline process. Examination of data collected from the one-on-one interviews and school staff questionnaires suggested that the SRC discipline process did result in a decrease in suspensions and expulsions and discipline referrals. In addition, the analysis of data indicated that there were positive Learning Community perceptions concerning the discipline process. The finding are congruent with effective schools research and school sites should continuously assess, intervene, and monitor the discipline process to ensure the Learning Community is consistently following the processes' elements and characteristics to accomplish the goal of reducing disruptive behavior overall.

    Appropriate school learning theory and educational philosophy is a strategy for preventing violence and promoting order and discipline in schools, put forward by educational philosopher Daniel Greenberg and practised by the Sudbury Valley School.

Detention is one of the most common punishments in schools in the United States, Britain, Ireland, Singapore, Canada, Australia and some other countries. It requires the pupil to remain in school during a specified time on a school day (lunch,recess,after school etc.) -- or even to attend school at a certain time on a non-school day, e.g. "Saturday detention" at some US and UK schools. In the UK, the Education Act 1997 obliges a school to give parents at least 24 hours' notice of a detention outside school hours. In UK schools, for offences too serious for a normal detention but not serious enough for a detention requiring the pupil to attend school at a certain time on a non-school day, a detention can require a pupil to attend school 1-2 hours after school ends on a school day, e.g. "Friday Night Detention".

Suspension or temporary exclusion is mandatory leave assigned to a student as a form of punishment that can last anywhere from one day to several weeks, during which time the student cannot attend regular lessons. In some US and Canadian schools there are two types of suspension: In-School Suspension (ISS) and Out-of-School Suspension (OSS). In-school suspension requires the student to report to school as normal but sit in a special room all day. Out-of-school suspension bars the student from being on school grounds. The student's parents/guardians are notified of the reason for and duration of the out-of-school suspension, and normally also for in-school suspensions. Sometimes students have to complete work during their suspensions, for which they receive no credit.

Exclusion, expulsion, withdrawing or permanent exclusion is the removal of a student permanently from the school. This is the ultimate last resort, when all other methods of discipline have failed. However, in extreme situations, it may also be used for a single offense. Some education authorities have a nominated school in which all excluded students are collected; this typically has a much higher staffing level than mainstream schools. In some US public schools, expulsions and exclusions are so serious that they require an appearance before the Board of Education. In the UK, head teachers may make the decision to exclude, but the student's parents have the right of appeal to the local education authority. This has proved controversial in cases where the head teacher's decision has been overturned (and his or her authority thereby undermined), and there are proposals to abolish the right of appeal.

Expulsion from a private school is a more straightforward matter, since the school can merely terminate its contract with the parents.