Discipline is not primarily about punishment but about "discipling". It means setting an example, by word and deed, for people to follow. We have a Code of Conduct that all staff members must adhere to and we have a Code of Conduct appropriate for the children. Both are based on biblical principles for godly living.
Ambleside Code of Conduct for Teachers
All teaching staff at The Vine School are expected to affirm their commitment to the Ambleside Code of Conduct (see end of page), not only in their professional lives, but in their private lives as well.
The Way We Want to Be - Code of Conduct for Pupils
Our pupils' Code of Conduct (see end of page) is written in simple terms for the children, but we expect teachers to model the same conduct. When anyone acts contrary to these standards we respond promptly. We strive to discipline with grace and to address not only behavior but also the heart attitude behind the behaviour.
Many disciplinary problems are avoided simply by keeping children focused and on task. When they are actively engaged in interesting work, there's less reason to look for distraction. Small classes allow teachers to keep an eye on every child and step in early before problems develop.
At The Vine School, teachers remain with the children during breaktimes. They supervise playground behaviour so that no-one gets the idea that it's okay to break the rules when they're "off duty". The constant involvement of teachers also makes it very difficult for bullying to occur. Sharing breaks with the children is valuable in building relationships on a different level.
Every situation is dealt with on its own merits and we do not have a standard "checklist" of transgressions with matching punishments. Instead we first try to find out the cause. Was it ignorance, weakness or willful disobedience? Different causes require different responses.
Disciplinary measures include the following: explaining expectations, reprimanding verbally, forming an alliance between pupil and teacher, enlisting support from parents, assigning extra work or removing privileges, suspension and (very rarely) expulsion. At all times the intention is to help children live as their "best selves" and to restore them if and when they fail. Repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation form part of a successful disciplinary process.
For purposes of clarity, we classify negative behaviour amd appropriate responses as follows:
Level One offence: talking in class, impulsive disobedience, eating at inappropriate times, mischief, pranks, inattention, sloppy work, impulsive/disruptive movement, impulsive speech that is cheeky, hurtful or demeaning to another.
Response: Level One offences are dealt with by the class teacher. Single offences elicit correction. Repeated offences elicit parent involvement and a strategy for forming a new habit.
Level Two offence: a pattern of impulsive disobedience, untruthfulness, profanity, speech that is intentionally disrespectful, hurtful or demeaning, less serious acts of aggression such as pushing, tripping or punching on the arm.
Response: Level Two offences are generally handled by the class teacher, but may include counsel of the Principal or other senior staff member. Parents will be notified and a record made on the child's file. Repeated offences elicit parent involvement and a strategy for forming a new habit.
Level Three offence: deliberate/defiant disobedience, refusal to do assigned work, deliberate deception, talk which is sexually perverse, graphically violent or sadistic, threatening talk, bullying or victimisation, stealing, outbursts of anger, leaving the school property, destruction of property, more serious acts of aggression such as throwing multiple punches, kicking, or striking with a object.
Response: Level Three offences are immediately referred to the Principal, and the pupil/s may be suspended for the remainder of the day. Parents are contacted and consulted as to response. Multiple offences with a lack of repentance will result in expulsion.
Level Four offence: any act of violence whihc has the potential to cause permanent harm, vandalism, violation of civil or criminal laws, use of possession of cigarettes, alcohol or illegal drugs, sexual immorality (including pornography) and threatening harm with a firearm or other weapon.
Level Four offences are immediately referred to the Principal, and will result in immediate suspension and probably expulsion. Parents are contacted for an immediate meeting with the Principal.
The Role of Parents
It is essential to have the support of parents in maintaining discipline for the benefit of pupils and the school as a whole. Therefore, we provide parents with a copy of the Code of Conduct upon acceptance to the school. Parents are responsible for their children's adherence to school rules when they are in uniform, even when they are not on the school property.