“K was sent to the holding area in FT1 today” J tells me of a fellow pupil. “He gets sent out of most lessons after two warnings. He usually ends up in the isolation unit but he got sent there so many times they refused to take him any more. So he just ended up wandering round the corridors.” Holding areas and isolation units sound to me more like the language of prison than school, but I suppose this is the modern approach to discipline. Nevertheless I wonder about a child who’s left wandering aimlessly around the building when he should be in lessons, but there you go – as the government slogan insists “Every child matters.” Meanwhile J finds she’s lost out on the chance to have her name entered in a draw for (I can still can’t quite believe it) a £10 voucher, offered as an incentive to good behaviour. Why? “I had a C for talking in geography.” A C what? “A Consequence,” she explains, exasperated.

I try to say that a consequence is a neutral thing; that every action has a consequence and to use it as a description of a negative action is ridiculous. Why can’t they just call it a punishment? She rolls her eyes: “Because that would be a P and P is for praise so if you got a P you wouldn’t know whether you were getting praise or punishment. Would you?” I suppose not. I just wish they’d speak English.


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