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Deans of discipline taught less combative approach to dealing with antisocial students

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 4:03 PM

When school reopens after the Easter break, deans of discipline from a number of high schools across the country, will take with them, a less combating approach to dealing with antisocial behaviour among students.

More than 100 of them are now better able to deal with the anti-social behaviour such as bullying, following a one-week intensive training course held recently at the Jamaica Police Academy in St Catherine.

Deans of Discipline are mandated to, among other things, provide intervention for students' disciplinary issues; develop appropriate programmes to promote positive behaviour; monitor, develop and implement student behavioural contracts; keep a log of students' attendance and truancy issues; communicate disciplinary concerns to parents and staff; and to ensure the overall safety of the school premises.

Speaking at the closing out ceremony last week, Education Minister Ronald Thwaites charged deans of discipline to be the ones to lead the drive for the restoration and enforcement of discipline in the schools, and offered them the full backing of the Ministry of Education.

The course participants were exposed to all aspects of safety including defensive tactics, security audit, critical incident report writing, and liaising with the Community Safety and Security Branch of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as well as the National Road Safety Council, disclosed Coleridge Minto, director of Safety and Security in Schools at the Ministry of Education. He said there was a "great appreciation" for the high level of training provided by the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

Carl Sterling, dean of discipline at Vauxhall High School, welcomed the training course, noting that the sessions were very informative and served as re-enforcement for some of the duties that he is required to fulfil. "I am happy that the ministry has gone this route and I know that all the schools that are involved will benefit. Every school should have a dean of discipline, from the primary level upwards," Sterling said.

Another participant, Donovan Campbell, dean of discipline at the Oracabessa High School, said the training session has re-enforced the need for a less combative approach to address students' anti-social behaviour, such as bullying. He said the dispensation now requires a softer, firmer approach, not punishing the child, but putting measures in place to correct the behaviour and point the child in the right direction.

Meanwhile, Anthony Feurtado dean of discipline at the Eltham High School, noted that while schools need to provide a safe learning environment, efforts also must be focused on creating and maintaining a nurturing learning environment that is characterised by dignity and respect for all members of the school community.

The recent training for deans of discipline also addressed effective classroom management strategies, systems of rewards and sanctions, conflict resolution strategies, the rights and responsibilities of the child, the role of parents and communities, the development of a standard-home school agreement and code of conduct for students, teachers and parents.