Last week I read an interesting article in the Daily Mail online about a school in Lancashire, that has now made it policy to not label children as naughty.
Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson, of Barrowford Primary school told the Mail on Sunday:
‘We don’t label children naughty at all. It’s important that they seem themselves as intrinsically good and build up a positive sense of self.’
Although this is a mainstream school, I have no doubt that there will be children in this school with autism and ADHD, and as we all know, children like this are often labelled as naughty. I have been told on several occasions by complete strangers that my child is naughty, without them knowing what is truly going on.
I have always believed that there is no such thing as a naughty child, that there is always a reason for behaviour. Schools like this one I believe are vital. Don’t be fooled though, this school is not taking a ‘soft’ approach, rather I think it is allowing the child to question their own actions and making them ask themselves, why did I do that? What could I do differently next time?
Once again the school policy states:
‘A child is not to be defined as naughty. It should be explained to the child that they have made a wrong choice.’
This leads me onto the topic that there needs to be better awareness of hidden disabilities such as autism and ADHD. To the casual observer it is so very easy to label these children as naughty. You see a child in meltdown, struggling to communicate or struggling with sensory issues due to their environment, but what you witness is challenging behaviour due to this. The child is not being naughty; it is a physical response to what is happening to them.
However if people do not understand the reasons behind their behaviour, then it is not their fault. It is just that there needs to be better awareness.
I was so happy to read about this school and the fantastic work that they are doing. We need to rid the whole misconception of naughty children, wipe the slate clean and start again. We need to consider why the child is behaving the way in which they do and then help them, rather than to judge and condemn. Let us give them the best possible start in life.
Source: Martin Beckford: Mail Online: The school that says there’s no such thing as a naughty child: Primary bans teachers from raising their voices and refuses to judge its pupils