The Ponatahi Christian School Prospectus
BEHAVIOUR & DISCIPLINE
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil. Prov 16:6.
It is clear that major offenses such as those related to violence, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and defiance to authority are likely to lead to the student being removed from the school. But we do not normally expect these offenses to be issues at this school. In general we expect all students to behave in a manner that is to the honour of the Lord. This includes rendering obedience to all those in authority and to exercise the golden rule of life: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” Matt 7:12.
This code is peculiar to the school and should be familiar to all parents and students.
- All behaviour which is directly dishonouring to the LORD is regarded as a major offence. This includes the taking of God’s Name in vain and disrespectful behaviour during prayer, reading the Bible, or singing Psalters.
- All adults, whether staff members or not, must be respected by all students at all times.
- All manner of behaviour designed to hurt the feelings of another student is forbidden. This includes physical intimidation and teasing.
- All manner of property including the school’s, another student’s, or the student’s own must be respected at all times.
- Foul language and lewd gestures are considered to be major offences.
- No student is to leave the school property during school time without prior permission.
- Peer pressure towards something known to be forbidden at other homes is forbidden. This means, for example, that students must refrain from speaking about television or rock music during school time.
- All school rules and discipline apply from the time students arrive at the bus stop in the morning to the time the students arrive home in the afternoon. School rules and discipline also apply during any school activity, and to any student in public view in uniform regardless of time and place.
- Offenses involving possession or use of alcohol, drugs, or tobacco at school, or on school trips will ordinarily be referred to the Board of Trustees and may result in the permanent removal of the student from school.
Steps of Discipline:
- Immediate classroom or playground management with minor disciplinary matters.
- Sheet/words or other written punishment for the student. For primary students we insist that this is signed by a parent. The lunchtime detention is also at step , teachers deciding which of the two is the more appropriate for each circumstance. Serial discipline at this level is likely to lead to an afternoon detention, or conduct card. See below.
- Afternoon detentions may be given out for (a) failure to complete sheet/words after being initially doubled, (b) violent behaviour not serious enough for stand down or suspension, (c) dissent to authority, (d) failure to modify behaviour after several applications of lower level discipline, or (e) any offence considered too serious for a “sheet” but not serious enough for a stand down or suspension. Parents are always informed, in writing, of the reason and date of an afternoon detention. Steps  to , below, are not necessarily more severe than an afternoon detention. They are generally used for continual poor behavior or effort in the classroom. For most other types of misbehavior, the logical step after step  is step .
- Level 1 conduct card (for ½ week = 3 school days). YELLOW CARD. The conduct card system is to be generated by the Principal, or Deputy Principal, upon recommendation from the teachers. E.g.: getting sent out of class will often result in a Level 1 conduct card. While on a conduct card, the student is closely monitored for both behaviour and application. Failure to satisfactorily complete a Level 1 conduct card results in a Level 2 conduct card.
- Level 2 conduct card (for 1 week = 5 school days) PLUS phone call from the Principal or Deputy Principal to the parent stating the reason and the seriousness of the discipline imposed. ORANGE CARD – to be signed by parents every night. Failure to satisfactorily complete a Level 2 conduct card results in a Level 3 conduct card.
- Level 3 conduct card (for 2 weeks = 10 school days) PLUS a letter to parents, warning that further disciplinary breaches could result in stand-down from school. RED CARD – to be signed by parents every night. Failure to satisfactorily complete a Level 3 conduct card will result in consultation with the parents for what is the appropriate next step, but it is likely to be step .
- Temporary Withdrawal. The student is given work to do in one of the study rooms. Please refer to the note below on the use of the study rooms. The success of the study rooms in recent years had meant that steps  to  are now very rare. But if steps  to  are necessary, parents will be informed of all relevant legal rights. These steps are described in the Education Act, and generate a report sent to the Ministry of Education.
- Stand-down. This is when the Principal removes a student from school after which he/she is welcome to return. A student may receive no more than five days stand-down in a term and ten days in a year. A student returning to school after stand-down would ordinarily be placed on a level two conduct card before being removed from the discipline system.
- Suspension. This is the most serious step that the Principal can undertake. The student is removed from the school, to be dealt with by the discipline committee of the Board of Trustees within seven school days. The BOT may (a) allow the student to return with or without conditions, (b) continue the suspension until conditions are met, or (c) remove the student from the school. A student returning to school after suspension would ordinarily be placed on a level two conduct card before being removed from the discipline system.
- Exclusion/expulsion. This is removal from school as decided by the discipline committee of the Board of Trustees. “Exclusion” is the term given to a student under 16 years, and “expulsion” is for a student over 16 years.
NOTES ON THE STEPS OF DISCIPLINE
- The Principal has the discretion to impose formal discipline not mentioned above, which is applicable to particular circumstances, e.g.: being banned from the school bus or particular class for a set period of time.
- In the absence of the Principal, the Deputy Principal, or most senior teacher available, is legally authorised to stand down or suspend a student.
- In all cases of discipline there is a need to balance the education and well-being of others with the desire to help and show compassion to the offender. This requires great wisdom and Christ-like love for which we need God’s grace.
THE USE OF STUDY ROOMS FOR DISCIPLINE
Two study rooms were initially designed for students working on distance education and are still used for that purpose. They are also used for other purposes such as college students completing NCEA assessments, a group of enthusiastic primary students preparing a group presentation, a private conference between a staff member and a student, and any senior student or staff member seeking a quiet place to work away from the distractions of a busy classroom. One of the study rooms is also used as a withdrawal room for medical purposes. These rooms are not lockable. They have large windows facing a high traffic area of the school for the personal safety of those inside and to facilitate regular monitoring by office staff and school management. A minor, yet important, use of these study rooms is discipline.
The school maintains that every student has the right to quality education without it being compromised by individuals who choose to disregard the basic rules of the classroom. And those who choose to disregard the basic rules of the classroom also need love and guidance. The school does not use the study rooms to isolate a child, special needs or otherwise, who is emotionally disturbed or showing signs of stress. (This is about the worst thing that can be done to a child who, at that time, needs loving support.) A special needs child may be withdrawn to a special “safe” room set up for that purpose with the presence of an adult support person known to be “safe” to the child. When the study room is used for discipline it general falls into one of the following two categories:
- Management: The student has defied a legitimate instruction of the teacher and remains noncompliant after a discussion with the principal or other senior staff member. In our view a classroom can not function properly if a single student persists in defiance to a legitimate instruction. In this case the student will be set meaningful work to do either a study room or desk outside the principal’s office until he/she decides that compliance is a better option. Sometimes the student may be somewhat too agitated for meaningful work and needs space to cool off. Usually this only takes a few minutes, but if it drags on parents will be contacted.
- Response: This has proved to be a successful alternative to a “stand down”. The student, by his or her choices, has committed a serious offense, or has not appropriately responded to repeated applications of lesser steps of discipline, to the extent that a stand-down could be considered. In these cases the student is set meaningful work to do in a study room, usually for one day, so that learning is not disrupted. The student has access to subject teachers, is given regular exercise breaks adding to no less than the recess times of any other student, and has access to the bathroom facilities. The student may still join the regular class during the day for religious studies or any other key lesson at the request of the subject teacher. The parents will always informed beforehand and school management is open to negotiation as to the location (it does not always have to be physically in a study room), the level of direct or indirect supervision, or whether the parent wants to accompany the student for part or all of the day (we will provide a biscuit and cup of tea). Experience tell us that this intervention has been seldom necessary, and only for college, or near college age students. And if the student chooses to not co-operate, a stand-down for the original offending will be likely.
In recent years, discrete use of the study rooms for discipline has practically eliminated the need for stand downs or suspensions, while the wellbeing and undisrupted education of all children has been maintained to a high level. Every ERO visit we have ever had has commented favorably on the learning environment and wellbeing of students at this school. We have developed a model which we believe other schools can learn from, and we are willing to give assistance to the Ministry Of Education if it ever decides to develop guidelines around the safe practice of study or withdrawal rooms.
Peacemaker Principals for Conflict Resolution
This informal yet powerful discipline system can be used in parallel to the formal discipline on the previous pages. It is especially applicable when there has been conflict or a break down in relationships. These procedures are Biblically-based, and aim to deal with the heart of the problem: sin, self-righteousness and ill-feeling towards others. Although the Peacemaker Principles do not negate formal discipline, clearly a positive response may reduce the need for formal discipline depending upon circumstances
On the left, the slippery slope ends up in withdrawal, “everybody is wrong but me”, a very unhappy person who is no value to the greater Kingdom of God, and even potentially suicidal thoughts. On the right the attack responses are also very damaging to each other and the Kingdom of God. Both sides of the slippery slope are sinful responses with self -righteousness and the faults of others at the center. Both sides need prayer and help to get back up. But we hope that Biblically working things out will prevent slipping down the slope. The lessons learned may follow the children into adulthood.
“Work it Out” at the top starts with the four Gs or Ground Rules. It uses the 5As of Apology for the offender (usually applies to both parties) and culminates in the steps of forgiveness for the offended ones (also usually all parties involved). The following diagrams illustrate these principles. Older children may be given a more detailed model, and younger children may have it further simplified, but the principles are constant throughout the school.
The 4 G’S (Ground Rules)
- Glorify God: Ask yourself this focusing question: “How can I please and honour the Lord in this situation?” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
- Get the beam out of your own eye: Deal with any critical, negative, or overly sensitive attitudes or sinful words and actions in your life first. (Matthew 7:3,4)
- Gently restore: Our attitude should be one of gentleness rather than anger, and our purpose should be to restore rather than condemn. Remember that it is appropriate to overlook minor offences. (Galatians 6:1)
- Go and be reconciled: As you seek to forgive others and be reconciled, continually ask God for grace to enable you to forgive others as we wish to be forgiven ourselves. (Matthew 5: 24)
The 5 A’S of Apology (Confession)
- ADMIT what you did
- ACKNOWLEDGE the feelings
- ASK for forgiveness
- ACCEPT the consequences
- ALTER your behaviour
The Four Promises of Forgiveness
- “I will not dwell on this incident.”
- “I will not bring up this incident again and use it against you.”
- “I will not talk to others about this incident.”
- “I will not let this incident stand between us or hinder our personal relationship.”
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9