It has made the news again recently that an academy in the UK is using shaming tactics to promote better behaviour and academic improvement. I must see on this one that I disagree entirely that this is anyway a right approach to take as I have mentioned before I am from a Further Education teaching background. I have always had a standing rule with my students, and that is any motivation and disciplinary matters are dealt with in private, and it has worked well by and large so I do not see the need to take these matters into the public domain.
So, let us look at what is currently happening at Swindon Academy which is part of the United Learning Trust. So, they have implemented a system known as ranking orders which are placed on whiteboard displays in school assemblies and then talked about openly. These are both positive and negative issues which can range from academic progression, attendance and poor behaviour. The headteacher of the academy Ruth Robinson has defended this tactic as a motivational tool that is working based on the improvements since it was implemented.
But the mother of one 11-year-old pupil, who was recently named in an assembly in front of other children including those much older, says the system amounts to “branding”. The woman, who asked not to be named for fear that it would worsen the stigma she feels has been attached to her child, said she had lost faith in the school’s methods. She said: “They’ve got a whiteboard and they write the kids’ names up in order of who has been the worst behaved.
“There are older kids there too – it’s not fair. “My child came home really upset, they were embarrassed, I had no idea it was happening. “I think if a child is causing a bit of a problem at school then they need help, especially when they are so young. “Someone needs to be paying attention to what they’re doing and why, not victimising them – maybe trying to help that child rather than making them feel like they’re worthless. “If they’re treated like that then what reason have, they got to improve? You’ve branded them at such a young age.”
SourceMirror Online 8th March 2017
So, as you can see, there is a distinct disconnect between the staff and parents about this tactic. If this is going to be implemented surely, the parents should have been involved in some discussion. I know if my child came home from school and said they had been called out in front of an assembly, I would be far from happy with the situation.
In my opinion, this can be a dangerous route to follow in regards to the management of children in your care. There have been reported advantages of this way of doing things but how many of the children are suffering in silence because of this, scared to go to school worried about the possibility of being shown up in front of their peers. This could ultimately have disastrous and long term adverse psychological effects on children or even worse.
I think this is a dangerous game the academy is playing here, I hope it works out well for the trust and the children, but I have my doubts that it is the best way forward to motivate the children in the academy. It would certainly not be the way I would do it.