New Hope scheme for behaviour at Cambs school

A RADICAL new system to eliminate low-level disruption in lesson time has been put in place by staff at a Huntingdonshire school.

Teachers at Abbey College in Ramsey want the New Hope scheme to put an end to interruptions during their classes by handing out automatic after-school detentions to students not adhering to what they call “good habits” – including strict rules on uniform and punctuality.

It follows the success of the Reflection Room, where youngsters who persistently flout the school’s behaviour policy are put in isolation rather than suspended.

Assistant headteacher Naomi Macdonald said New Hope had attracted a lot of positive reactions from parents.

“All we are trying to do is reinforce good habits, such as bringing the right equipment to class and not chewing gum,” she said. “Most parents have said that these are expectations we should have of the children anyway and have been supportive.”

She added: “Some people think ‘there must be something horrific going on in school if they are having to take this extreme action’ but there hasn’t been anything – that’s why we can now concentrate on the tiny aspects that affect our school. We don’t want to waste a single second of learning time.”

Mrs Macdonald said the best response had been from the children themselves, with roughly 140 student “ambassadors” helping staff monitor the impact of New Hope.

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She explained that instead of teachers taking time out of the classes to reprimand unruly students, they will now simply say “You have a New Hope” and will make a note of the student’s details.

Staff will monitor two good habits per half term, with a three-week pilot phase before each goes live to “remind” students of the teachers’ expectations.

Good habits include wearing the correct uniform, not eating in class, bringing the correct equipment, punctuality, concentrating, doing homework on time and not answering back.

The trial run for monitoring uniform and chewing gum started on Monday – with 97 per cent of students sticking to the rules. Of the 37 students whose parents received e-mails about their child’s behaviour, 12 were for not having the right PE kit. By Tuesday, 98 per cent of youngsters were behaving well, the school said.

Mrs Macdonald said: “Hopefully, by the time we are doing New Hope for real, we won’t be giving out any detentions.”

The parents of all children handed detentions will be called and asked to arrange transport home for their son or daughter. Students in detention are not permitted to use the after-school bus, which is Government-funded and caters for youngsters taking part in extra-curricular activities.