Rules in schools – how far should they go?
A school in Norfolk issued a new rulebook for pupils at the start of the academic year and quickly had to retract it, tone it down and then re-issue.
In the original version teachers had “unquestioned authority” and “Pupils who do not say thank you as they leave the lesson are choosing to be rude. They will be punished.” The school was trying to tackle unruly behaviour and create a classroom culture in which children could learn. Recently I was asked by a visiting prospective pupil about rules in school: could girls wear their hair down?; did they have to wear their jackets at all times? These were two of the questions. In our family we have a saying – rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools. I was a little bit of a rule breaker at school if I could not see the purpose behind the restriction and I am a great
believer in having systems that enable pupils and staff to be respectful of each other for the greater good of all.
Our regulations are appropriate for the school – we insist upon a standard of uniform which gives pupils a feeling of pride in their school and is at the same time a leveller but there is a degree of freedom which allows them to, for example, style their hair as they wish. The sixth form do not wear a uniform and they dress appropriately for the day. We acknowledge that the girls are able to make informed decisions for themselves without having endless rules to be enforced.
Schools need to be structured places with equality between pupils and between pupils and staff and that we get right at PHS.