Does your school have any problems with discipline? What happens when students step out of line?

Is discipline a problem in your school? What do teachers do when pupils behave badly in your country? A Scottish teenager had very strong opinions about discipline at her school. Read on to find out more.

What is bad behaviour?

UK schools are allowed to discipline pupils who behave badly in various ways. But what exactly is bad behaviour? The following is a list of serious and not-so-serious types of bad behaviour seen by a teacher in a London secondary school.

  • Playing truant
  • Smoking, swearing, hitting, kissing, running, stealing
  • Not doing homework
  • Cheating in exams (copying from secret notes or another pupil)
  • Calling a teacher or another pupil bad names (bullying)
  • Not listening or not paying attention in lessons
  • Wearing unsuitable clothes for school.

Punishments in UK schools

It is illegal for schools to use physical punishments like hitting a student. Here are some of the ways that UK school children can be punished.

  • Exclusion: a pupil is excluded from the school and cannot come back. The pupil has to find a new school or a different method of education (home tutor, special centre for difficult pupils).
  • Suspension: when a pupil is suspended they cannot enter the building or attend lessons until the school has a meeting about their case. Suspension can last from 1 to 45 days in a school term. The school usually gives work to do at home with a tutor (special teacher).
  • Detention: a pupil is detained. This means he or she is asked to stay at school at the end of the school day. The pupil must work for 30 minutes or an hour more before they are allowed to leave the school.
  • Lines: a pupil has to write a sentence many times (100 times) on a sheet of paper: An example sentence: I must not shout in class. This punishment is sometimes given during detention too.

Case study

Freya MacDonald, a 15-year-old pupil from Scotland, made the news in the UK when she refused to accept her school’s punishment. Freya’s family say that she was given detention many times for trivial things such as drinking fizzy drinks in class and coming into school through a fire door. After her secondary school gave her detention for the eleventh time, she went to a lawyer and took legal action against the school. The teenager said that it is not legal to keep a pupil in the school building if the student does not want to be there because Scottish law says that it is illegal to detain children against their will.

According to Scottish law every child has the right to an education. Freya says that repeated detentions disrupted her education and made it difficult for her to learn. She refused to return to school until the school respected her civil rights. She wants the headmaster and her teachers to sign a letter to promise they will respect her rights.

Hundreds of schools in Scotland were told not to use detention as a punishment because of Freya’s legal action.


Many schools in the UK now give parents a home/school contract. This is a contract explaining the school discipline and rules. Parents must sign this document and agree that they accept the school’s rules. They are responsible for their child’s behaviour and must respect the discipline methods used in the school.

Total votes: 602


How does your school deal with discipline problems? Have you ever been punished at school?


nathalia's picture
nathalia 19 November, 2012 - 19:24

I think the punishments or detentions are for extreme cases such as when we damage the institution or something. but not with things as simple as running because that is absurd.

14 users have voted.
nathalia's picture
nathalia 19 November, 2012 - 16:48

hello teacher ..... in my school my classmates were out of line but the teachers do not tell them anything because the lead directly where the father of my school and suspend them for 2 or 3 days, depending on the severity of the problem.

13 users have voted.
BluePuppyPaper's picture
BluePuppyPaper 11 November, 2012 - 19:09

My name is Radina and I'm from Bulgaria.I haven't been punished at school.I have exellent marks too.In my school you can be punished if you:
-are putting much makeup
-wearing unsuitable clothes for shcool
-bullying students or teacers
-and orther

12 users have voted.
madam boss's picture
madam boss 10 November, 2012 - 09:44

in our school u can be punished for bad behaviour,
u can be punished for being late to school.
you can be punished for putting to much make up at school,
if you have got a cellphone at school and it rings during lessons it can be taken by the teachers and they will give u at the end of term.
you can be suspended for drinking alcohol at school,
u can be beaten for not doing school work,
you can be punished for being rude or making noise in class or eating in the class

12 users have voted.
hardmoon's picture
hardmoon 4 November, 2012 - 09:54

in our school we haven't any detentions like in uk or other countries in our school teachers just call your family for your bad behaviour

10 users have voted.
Queen14's picture
Queen14 1 November, 2012 - 14:46

In my school,in small country Montenegro,there are no so strickt punishments and because of that the discipline isn't so good. I'd like to be in a good school with a good discipline 'cause I could enjoy in better learning and bigger knowledge :) !

11 users have voted.
DreamyTopaz9's picture
DreamyTopaz9 30 October, 2012 - 15:24

Behaviour in my class is very bad! They are rude,unkind and impolite with our teachers! Kids from my class often yalling on our teachers! Pretty compicated... :P

9 users have voted.
terranova@'s picture
terranova@ 25 October, 2012 - 18:48

i haven t been punished at school but in my school in Montenegro are not so bad they just tell us not to do that any more i wish that we have a little more punishments like having an extra hour or to clean the classrooms

17 users have voted.
AdrianMadu's picture
AdrianMadu 17 October, 2012 - 10:05

In Spain, the teachers hit our fingers with a rule and they hang our thumbs to the roof. We, the students, have to stay every days more than 2 extra hours

13 users have voted.
JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 29 November, 2012 - 11:17

Hi AdrianMadu,
Wow! Are you serious about that? Hanging your thumbs on the roof sounds like a pretty bad punishment. I think you're joking, aren't you?!
Jo (LETeens Team)

12 users have voted.
Sizar Torres's picture
Sizar Torres 12 October, 2012 - 10:39

well, I think the discipline in UK is really great , in my opinion it is very significant to have rules in every school in every country, as well as it's very important to have different kinds of punishments .
In my region, our schools don't have good services just like European schools, but with that we have Model high schools which provide many new and useful services and new ways for learning.
Now I've read this article I feel sad, because students here don't have their whole rights, for instance we just learn English and Arabic in schools, no German, or Spanish or any other languages! though this is our smallest right.
We don't have such services which British schools have, as well as we don't have school contracts with families , our teachers doesn't let us to wear for example red or pink or yellow jackets , or to make hair styles , or wearing necklaces or such things ,they don't let us to take mobiles with us , or laptops .
When students doesn't respect the rules and do such forbidden things , teachers or headmasters talk to them 3 or 4 times and then if they continue they will call their families and finally if they don't stop their bad manners they will be excluded .
I wish to have such punishment methods in my country schools, I think they are very useful and helpful for students.
Thanks a lot..

12 users have voted.
Lemon's picture
Lemon 8 October, 2012 - 08:46

In Ukraine teachers use exclusion very rarely. At first, they only shout at students and explain why the must not do some bad things. If the student does something bad again, the teacher usually uses The method of collective punishment. For example: one boy didn't do his homework and teacher gives all the class more homework. I hate this method but it really helps! And if it doesn't help, the teacher calls student's parents and talks to them about the students behavior.

15 users have voted.
Ella1996's picture
Ella1996 11 October, 2012 - 10:45

In Russian schools are exactly the same punishment. I read the comments of students from other countries and marvel at what they have strict rules. In my school, there is a form, but not as strong as the rest. And by the way, we can walk with her hair, not one teacher you will not say anything against.

14 users have voted.
Daoud's picture
Daoud 22 September, 2012 - 16:00

This topic is very interesting ... you know the picture above remind me what I use to have in the primary school but I think it was a good training that make pupil write better.

12 users have voted.
ist34's picture
ist34 21 September, 2012 - 19:10

I've never been punished at school , mmm I think rules in Turkish schools are callous. It depends schools but most of Turkish schools has really bad rules. We've got school uniforms and everybody has to wear them with shoes which decided by school. For example some of schools doesnt want to sports shoes . In my school we can wear every shoes but it has to be black. Schoolboys cant enter the school with long hairs and girls hair has to be ponytail. if we've got bad behaviour like those , our punishment is not entering to school. Not doing homework just gives us bad grades and if we dont come to school for 20 days , we cant go back to school again. Punishment of doing other bad things ( cheating in exams , smoking , bullying etc ) are :
Warning : this removes obstacle in front of the disciplinary punishment.
Disciplinary punishment : disciplinary committee convenes and decide "disciplinary punishment." İt has a limit. having 1 or 2 disciplinary punishment means can not come to school again.
Of course pupils can go to the another school but it's too hard. Any school want these pupils. Also if pupil has disciplinary punishment , S/he cant work in military.

15 users have voted.
SaiRamAna's picture
SaiRamAna 18 September, 2012 - 04:46

Oh well in Colombia, it depends on the kind of school and teachers. In pedagogics you are always said you can't punish children because that's not nice and it can be sorted as conductist model of education. But, well, to say the truth, there are a lot of teachers in that method. They order children to write lines in their notebooks (and this is common depending more on the teacher than on the institution).For them, this is not a kind of punishment, they think it is good.
Some teachers make students stay at the end of a class or stay inside the classroom in their lunch time.
To punish the students is a very bad practice, teachers and institutions should be respectful with the human beings who are studying. When there is love and comprehension, then the teacher won't do anything dangerous to affect the student's welfare.

18 users have voted.
Marine's picture
Marine 13 September, 2012 - 13:20

I have never punished at school... But, In our school when someone do problems they write a report for the student and he stays out school for some days

17 users have voted.
futsal's picture
futsal 12 September, 2012 - 17:25

In our school , we usually punish for smoll things , like playing with water .
once I did that , our principle called my family . . .

15 users have voted.
I LOVE TAIWAN's picture
I LOVE TAIWAN 17 September, 2012 - 12:46

Too bad!If I'm in your school,maybe I punished by your principle everyday...because I'm a naughty student...

17 users have voted.
niky_02nqn's picture
niky_02nqn 8 September, 2012 - 03:23

I've never been punished at school,,thanks god!
Some punishments in Argentinian schools are:
• Expulsions
• Suspensions: they can last from 1 to more than 20 days
• Attention calls: a pupil is warned for his actions. This's a good idea because you can fix your actions and never do it again,, :D
•banns: if you do something incorrect like say bad words, hit someone, or,,go off from school, you'll get banns!!!If you have got more than 15 you could be expelled!!!!

In Argentinian schools we don't have detentions or have to write lines!
Argentinian schools are FREE and, Universities are FREE too!!
I'm in fourth year of high school, this is my penultimate year,,I'll be at University in 2014!if everything goes up, I'll study English teacher,,,I hope :D

17 users have voted.
Jonathan - Coordinator's picture
Jonathan - Coor... 9 September, 2012 - 16:45

Hi niky_02nqn! That's interesting, Argentinian schools have quite a few different kinds of punishment. So, do you think they are effective? Do they make everybody behave well in class? 

Jonathan (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

17 users have voted.
niky_02nqn's picture
niky_02nqn 10 September, 2012 - 03:14

Hello Jonathan!Thanks for your reply!!!Okey, let's see,, I think that "Argentinian punishments" are very effective,, I guess,,,but when I think about the result in the pupil, maybe it's not quite excellent,, sometimes, not always,,,well, it's all from me!!See you!!! :D

16 users have voted.