Ballakermeen head teacher Adrienne Burnett has defended a new discipline policy implemented at the school.
Mrs Burnett was contacted after the Manx Independent was approached by a pupil at the island’s largest secondary school complaining the new rules were unfair.
The pupil, who lives in the Douglas area but asked to remain anonymous, told Isle of Man Newspapers: ’This is a change in behaviour policy which many, if not all students believe is unfair.
’Under the old system, we used to be given many warnings and fair opportunities to improve our behaviour before serious actions were taken; this included being talked to by the teacher in a constructive manner. Isolation, detention or suspension was viewed by all as a very last resort.’
However, he said following the change of policy, what he termed ’minor offences’ - examples given were chewing gum or talking to another pupil without permission - would result in a negative comment being recorded.
’If a student gets eight comments in a week, they are moved to isolation regardless of their previous behaviour record.
’Any incidence of swearing at another student or teacher, making racist or homophobic comments or making inappropriate comments about a teacher will result in a student being removed to isolation immediately,’ he said.
But Mrs Burnett told Isle of Man Newspapers the school’s disciplinary policy was reviewed every year as part of the school’s self evaluation process and any necessary adjustments were made.
’We have recently undertaken a review of the school’s code of conduct and have sought over the last year or so to bring a little more clarity to the processes that already take place day to day in the school.
’The updated code of conduct has been presented to students and it is unfortunate that the student who has been in contact with IOM Newspapers has not fully understood the code.
’One of the strengths of the school is the relationships we have with our students, and when it comes to discipline issues, we treat every student as an individual and fairly.
’The vast majority of our students who are well behaved will not notice anything different.’
She added the school was liaising with pupils and parents to make sure everyone understood the new code of conduct which, she said, would have a positive impact.
A survey by teachers’ union the NASUWT claimed earlier this year some teachers were being threatened outside schools by pupils.
Last November, the NASUWT threatened legal action after two staff at Ballakermeen School were allegedly ’harassed and abused’ by pupils.