Everyone likes being told “well done”. Indeed, just like the age-old debate as to whether it is better to give or receive presents at Christmas, it is arguably just as nice to be able to say “well done” to others.
One of the great pleasures of being a teacher is to be able to congratulate students on their success, especially when we can recognise that they have gone the extra mile in the production of a piece of work, or have lived out the values that the school holds dear.
We have had something of a relaunch of our ‘Rewards and Sanctions’ system this term, and I would like to share with you the philosophy that underpins it, along with some of the details that parents might notice. The central tenet of our system is that it is based upon strong and positive relationships between teacher and student – conversations are key. Although we have the award of House Points or Cautions, these are only the notification, or formal recognition, of what will have been a congratulation or reprimand from a teacher. The second key principle is that we should recognise the incredibly positive atmosphere that exists in the school by having a system that also acknowledges the positive far more than the negative. This has certainly been lived out in practice to date this term with 320 House Points being awarded compared to 20 Cautions. The key to the success of any system is that it is used consistently across the school; in the words of educationalist Bill Rogers: “Certainty is more important than severity”.
These principles haven’t really changed, but it is always good to have a reminder of what we stand for. So, what has changed?
- We have clarified what House Points should be awarded for, so that they will better reflect our values. For example: good collaborative work, or independent thought, are explicitly mentioned in the system. Internally, this sub-categorisation means we can get richer information about behaviour in the school.
- We have improved the flow of information within the system so that it is easier for Tutors, Pastoral Leaders and management to keep an eye on what is happening around the school. It will also mean that we will be able to communicate with home more easily when significant milestones are achieved (hopefully you’ll receive some emails soon!)
- We have also moved the threshold for a Detention up a little to five Cautions in a term from three. The feeling was that we wanted Detentions to be seen as a serious sanction and it was potentially too easy to make a series of three small mistakes and find yourself in what felt like serious trouble under the previous system. More positively, we have also clarified the rewards for multiple House Points, including an invitation to have a drink and cookie with me so that I can congratulate in person those who achieve nine in a term.
We hope that these changes will further improve what was already a positive and productive system in the Senior School and will underpin one of the key strengths of the Stephen Perse Foundation – those exceptional relationships between teacher and pupil.