The last week or so has showed me that schools nowadays are on a power trip, akin to prisons. When did schools stop becoming a learning institution and become a place to lock up children? The main story focuses on my friends son Brian and his experience of school with some extra stories about my own son and one of his friends.

Brian was in art class and was asked by Liam if he could borrow his pencil sharpener. Brian took the sharpener over to Liam and although the next is a little unclear, it still doesn't justify the end. One story is that someone jogged Brian and the pencil sharpener ended up in Liams mouth. The other story is that Brian put the pencil sharpener in Liams mouth. Either way, Liam apparently then choked.

When both children were taken to the headmaster, they both said that it was an accident. Remember the alleged offender and the alleged victim both said it was an accident. After being told they were lying and interrogated for a length of time, they both then said that Brian had deliberately put it in Liams mouth. Once again, either way, it is irrelevant but I am just giving you the facts surrounding this story before I move on.

What you would imagine is that Brian would have been reprimanded and given a detention. Fair enough. My son Luke, received detention for texting during class. Although it turned out that he actually sent a text during an exam. My thoughts - I totally support the school for giving him a detention for doing something that he knows he should not. All kids, especially kids today, need discipline as there is not enough respect shown to teachers and elders in general.

What actually happened to Brian was a punishment that I totally and wholly disagree with. He was told he would be put into isolation. Yes you read it right, isolation. Now forgive me but isn't that something they do to the worst offenders in prison? Coupled with the fact, whilst dishing out this punisment, the Deputy Head told him he should count himself lucky that he hadn't called the police for attempted murder! Extreme?

Isolation consists of sitting in a cubicle as big as a toilet, with your back to the only entry and exit. You are sat at a desk, facing another wall and given work to do for 6 hours solid. I agree that the children should do work in detention type punishments rather than just sit there because it isn't counter-productive so I have no issue with this. I just feel that isolating a child for that long, is extreme punishment. There is no fresh air allowed and only a five minute break for lunch.

In some law somewhere, I would even go as far as saying that this must breache the human rights of the child. Even prisoners in isolation are given recreation time.

I do not feel that this is in anyway productive and I would not allow any child of mine to partake in isolation regardless of what offense he had committed. I would allow detention, more than once, if necessary but I would refuse to allow them to undergo isolation.

This is meant to be a school, where children go to learn. I support rules and discipline, as I said, it is needed to ensure children grow up with common courtesy and manners. But ultimately, school is school, not prison. And what right do teachers have to take on the role of a prison officer? There are too many officers in prisons who are power crazy and it seems that this mentality is traversing into schools.

There was a time when the school only dealt with incidents that happen during school time or, if after school, when the children are still in uniform. Yet another of my friends son Kane, has been suspended for four days for cyber bullying. I do not endorse any kind of bullying but this was outside of school, on XBox Live and in no way interfering with the school day. I have been told that when playing on Xbox Live you have the ability to block anyone who is offensive. So why did the other child not use this? And why have the school got involved?

In contrast, a twelve year old girl I know, came out of school and was stopped by a group of older boys wearing school uniform. They would not let this girl get past to go home and they were offensive in a sexual way. When the parents reported this to the school, the school said that it had nothing to do with them because it was off of school property.

I seriously think there should be a national agenda for schools in how they are going to deal with punishments. I also think the parents should be informed of it beforehand. I do not think punishments such as isolation have any place in a school. I also think suspension or expulsion is kind of defeating the option because most kids would love the idea of having time off school regardless of it being a punishment. Surely extra homework or detention is better than letting the child stay home.

This did not happen to my child but I can assure you if ever my son is put into isolation, regardless of what he has done, I will not allow him to do it. And according to the school, if the child does not do it, then they are expelled and have to attend another school. So be it, I would take it as high as I could.

Be interested in other peoples thoughts on this and what other schools deem fit as punishment.

Thanks for reading. Until next time, be good!
Friday 4th February 2011