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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 8:23 am 
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My DD (year 4) did a lunchtime detention in a classroom on her own.

The reason for the detention was to catch up on some missing work. Three of them were told to stay in at lunchtime and do the missing work. It came out in conversation with my DD that she did this absolutely on her own, in the classroom , at lunchtime. I asked her where the other two were - due to some complicated lunchtime arrangements they did their's in the opposite half of lunchtime she said. I asked her were lunchtime detentions usually done on your own - she didn't really know but she seemed to think that it would be normal to have more than one child there, but no member of staff. She said she thought she ended up completely on her own because the teacher does not know about the lunchtime arrangements.

I asked her how she knew when the detention was over. She said you could just leave when you had done the work so she scribbled it down in five minutes because she didn't like being there. She wasn't particularly bothered by it, and I think it served a purpose to remind her to be more organised in future (which is what it was about) but I feel a bit uneasy about the whole thing.


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 8:44 am 
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Quote:
She said she thought she ended up completely on her own because the teacher does not know about the lunchtime arrangements.
So had the teacher actually told her what time to be there, or had she gone to the classroom when she thought she should, found no one there (not at all unusual at lunchtime) and just sat down and done what she needed to? I think that is the central point here - a child could easily wander into a classroom at lunchtime alone; but if the teacher knew about it and was happy for her to be alone, maybe that is a different matter.

There are 2 views on it if the latter is the case. In this country, we tend to have rules which mean children need to be supervised at all times apart from when they are on the toilet. This was clearly not done and so you would have grounds to complain. And I think the complaint would be upheld and you would get an apology. That said, I think your daughter showed laudable initiative and did what was required of her with no fuss, and personally I would be praising that - she sounds quite 'sorted' over it which to me is quite sweet.

A friend has just come back from Norway where her Norwegian friend's 7 year old walked home from school alone each day, like all his friends, with a key hanging round his neck to get in when he got there. In Denmark very small children are allowed out to play at nursery, with no adult supervision, no fences and locks and no signing in procedures, no police checks for casual visitors etc. The staff watch from a distance, and children know what they must do if someone is hurt or unhappy.

'Safeguarding' has become a real issue in this country and we tend to handle it by means of rules, procedures, checks etc. Much legislation here is now designed to 'safeguard' us from each other and from Bad Things. Other places may do it differently, by trying to foster a community spirit and encouraging children, from their earliest days, to be independent, to care about each other and to help each other out.

I think this is a very interesting question Mystery, but perhaps not in the way you intended it to be. :)


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:04 am 
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Very interesting post, Amber. I have personal knowledge from the Scandinavian countries and their attitude to children, child safety and independence and I can only confirm your and your friend's experience. And even if the Scandinavian children have less safe guarding, very seldom Bad Things happen, probably just as seldom as here in the UK where Health & Safety seems to be paramount!


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:04 am 
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Yes in a lot of ways I agree. But you know if I was going to leave my children on their own for a very short period, which I occasionally do, I'd rather it were at home where I know that it is highly unlikely that anyone I don't know is going to show up. And I would discuss with my children exactly what to do if certain situations arose and make sure that they can do it. There are builders in the school almost continually, and it's not particularly difficult for other parents to be wandering round the school either. I wouldn't say they were all angels. I find that my children behave differently at school - they don't stand up for themselves, for example, in the way that they do out of school. They feel that anyone on school premises is "in authority" and they don't for example, if a teacher asks them to apologise for something they haven't done, say "but I didn't do it". They just apologise. Maddening. They are not like that at home.

I do also leave them alone in parks, and shops and public places too - after all they will be finding their way to secondary school quite soon, and I had a lot of freedom at their age. I am much less happy about them being alone in this particular school and building. Having said that, I know the chances of anything happening are so very low. It's just the way that none of it quite adds up to something that is the norm. I've also recently seen this particular teacher have the head ask her directly if she has left a class on their own at the end of the day .... so it's all odd.

I sure wouldn't get an apology Amber if I did complain about this. I'd be told that my daughter was completely mistaken. She is most definitely not.

Yes the teacher probably did not know about the lunchtime arrangements. This is a little worrying too as they have been in place for 8 months now. Yes, my DD was sensible just going and doing it..... in way though it would seem more "normal" to me if she'd gone to the school office and said "I'm supposed to be having a detention with Mrs X but I can't find her - what should I do?"

But, if as a teacher I had set a detention (which I did, after school, pain as it was, as we had to attend them of course and notify parents), and failed to realise the arrangements, I would then have been checking in the afternoon what had happened to the children I hadn't seen at lunchtime - and also checking they had done the work they were supposed to have done - which was after all the whole point of this detention. It is not the norm to set lunchtime detentions, and it's not the norm for these particular children to be given them. So it would seem odd that all this had slipped her mind. If the other children had turned up to see the teacher at the right time in the right place, and my daughter hadn't, why wouldn't she, at the very least, have asked my DD in afternoon where she was, and asked to see the work?

So it's all a bit weird I feel. If the purpose was to remind children that they need to organise themselves and get the work done, then what's the use if you don't check up that it happened and that they did the work? These are primary children, not university students.

I notice also that you say Amber that the staff "watch from a distance" in Denmark. That is supervision. I also feel there is a big difference between what I do with my own children, and what I would do with other people's. If other people's children are put in my care (paid or not) I would not do the things I do with my own children as I do not know how responsible their children are.

It sounds like the Danish staff are quite often giving children the impression that they are on their own when they are not. I do this myself too in appropriate situations where being completely isolated would be inappropriate, but it would be good for them to feel that they are coping "on their own" with whatever it is.


Last edited by mystery on Wed May 22, 2013 9:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:24 am 
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I wouldn't find it unusual for a child in year 4 to be in a classroom on their own. I might expect a 'go and do the work and then show me' so that the teacher could check that they had done it before they went out to play. So I don't mind her being on her own, but I'm unsure about getting 'detention' just because a piece of work isn't finished.

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:28 am 
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I'm glad other people are as relaxed as me. But, how would the child show the teacher the work before going out of play if the teacher wasn't there?


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:35 am 
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Quote:
I notice also that you say Amber that the staff "watch from a distance" in Denmark.
It sounds like the Danish staff are quite often giving children the impression that they are on their own when they are not. I do this myself too in appropriate situations where being completely isolated would be inappropriate, but it would be good for them to feel that they are coping "on their own" with whatever it is
Ok, to clarify. The situation I have witnessed, and had verified by a Danish teacher friend, is that the children are free to wander in and out of the nursery building, with each other (age range - babies up to 6). The staff I saw remained inside - they were not watching out of a window, or doing head counts, or checking ratios or looking to see whether there were suspicious looking adults loitering around. The older toddlers were lugging the babies round and the older children were telling the toddlers if they got it wrong!

I am not saying that to make any point either way - just clarifying that I would not call it supervision in the sense we understand it here.

And to pick up your point, West Kent Mum, personally I think that a culture which is heavily regulated is actually likely to lead to more accidents, more malign individuals getting away with child-related offences, more abuse of the elderly and vulnerable in society. This is because rules and laws are quite a good way of distancing ourselves from our own responsibilities to each other - we think it is someone else's job to take care of 'other people' and their children. In my own view, the more tick-box regulations we have, the more chance there is of people falling through the cracks. We then have a huge, expensive public enquiry, we demand that 'heads must roll' in the search for accountability, and we make a new law to ensure it never happens again. Accountability is not the same as responsibility. Personally I would rather see fewer laws and more people taking a commonsense attitude to looking after each other.

None of that really aimed at your DD, Mystery - she sounds a fine little thing and I would be proud, while perhaps addressing my concerns to the Head of Key Stage or indeed the Governors.


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 9:42 am 
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Yes I think you are right that it leads to more danger. There are so few children out playing that the children that are stand out like sore thumbs, so to speak. We sometimes let our children wander in very big spaces. We know roughly where they are and maintain walkie talkie contact. If things went dead we'd run. But I feel bad about it because no-one else does it and so as a consequence, there are fewer people out and about to see if anything sinister does happen.

And if you are at a local play area there are so many adults hanging around you don't know if any of them have gone without a child to watch children or not ... so you feel you should stay yourself. So fewer children use the play areas because it is a drag for the parents. So round here the play areas are at times filled up instead with teenagers with babies in pushchairs, cans of lager, arguing loudly on their mobiles with their friends who have not gone out for some "fresh air".


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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 1:41 pm 
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mystery wrote:
I'm glad other people are as relaxed as me. But, how would the child show the teacher the work before going out of play if the teacher wasn't there?


They'd have to go to the staffroom, knock and wait and then show them I suppose.

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PostPosted: Wed May 22, 2013 1:52 pm 
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That's definitely not allowed at our school .... no child sets foot in that area of the school unless they are being taken in there for a small group lesson.


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