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detention

“What is the purpose, what is the benefit to everyone involved and how does that shift the behaviour?”
-PV Executive Officer Gail McHardy

 In the media

A recent article in the Herald-Sun raised the issue of Saturday detention at Victorian Schools.

We can’t link to the article because it’s behind a pay-wall, but it covers a number of Melbourne government schools that list Saturday detention in their student handbooks. The article contained comments from a number of school Principals, including Victorian Association of State Secondary Principals president Sue Bell, who said, “It’s a last-ditch effort, really.” Ms Bell said when she was principal at Wantirna College, students who tagged school buildings in graffiti were required to come to the campus on a weekend and repair the damage. She said the exercise offered an opportunity to talk to the student about what was going on. “And it was a nice way for them to give back,” she said.

 The article also mentioned Roxburgh College. At that school, a notice to families urged them to support Saturday detention between 9am and 11am — a consequence for missing two after school detentions, for truancy, failure for bringing books and materials to class or completing work.

“It is only with your support and a commitment to sound processes and quality curriculum that we can make our school a great school,” principal Fernando Ianni wrote.

Department of Education guidelines state out-of-school detentions should not exceed 45 minutes, but most schools run over that limit with two- or three-hour sessions.

Our comment

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said, “If you want to diminish and deteriorate the relationship between homes and schools, that’s a good start.

“What is the purpose, what is the benefit to everyone involved and how does that shift the behaviour?” she asked.

“It disappoints me.

“As an organisation we’d be disappointed schools are resorting to those measures because it doesn’t help relationships, it destroys them.

“Just take one example; not turning up to after school detention. This could be as a result of having to collect siblings after school, transport constraints and other unknown contributing factors. What works is communication, not a ‘one size fits all’ punishment.”

Education Department comment

A DET spokesman said all schools were required to have a student engagement policy, which included behaviour expectations and consequences.

“What is included in these policies is a matter for individual schools,” he said.

“However, it is important they reflect the expectations of the entire school community and is clearly communicated to both parents and students.”