School discipline

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


Do the preparation task first. Then read the article and do the exercises to check your understanding.

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.


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

Average: 4 (2 votes)
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Submitted by nastaseevna on Tue, 05/07/2024 - 13:23

My college has suspension to deal with discipline problems. Luckily, I’ve never been punished in college or school. However, before, I had a classmate and he had a fight,so he was suspended and couldn’t enter the building about 30 days.

Submitted by sipansaifadin on Tue, 05/07/2024 - 13:21

Whene I was 12 years old I slapped one of my friends and he was crying. After that he told my teacher then my teacher invited my parents and they told my parents.

Submitted by Rasty on Tue, 05/07/2024 - 13:20

I still remember how funnily we were punished in our school. My English teacher was really so strict and if we keep shouting the time she enter the class ,then she used to punish us.

We were asked to stand on the bench . Then open our mouth and put the tongue out. And pls don't say…..she used to ask us to catch the tongue Wid our hand….. It was really so stupid and the worst punishment I ever heard nor seen….

I hope all of you are also wondering how that punishment really seem….

Submitted by foxy adam on Tue, 05/07/2024 - 13:18

First they may give you a warning letter then if you repeat it again you may get suspended
I was suspended from school once I remember

Submitted by @Cookies_icecream on Sat, 04/13/2024 - 05:34

In some schools, if you don't attend to school events, the teachers demand you to do extra service, like cleaning the common areas, doing inventories or helping in the school library.
Also, if you bother to your classmates or make bullying and the authorities know about it, you got immediatly excluded.

Submitted by joebob on Sat, 09/23/2023 - 15:39

My school gives behaviour points if you do something wrong, and my tracher gave me a behaviour point for doing a very small doodle in the corner of my book, even though it helps me concentrate and stops me from day dreaming. Do you think it is fair she gave me a behaviour point?

Submitted by hermione123 on Tue, 02/09/2021 - 12:38

I never been punished at school. I always follow my school's rules.

Submitted by halogirl on Fri, 09/11/2020 - 02:17

I don‘t know what’s happened at school in the first week back to make teachers so grumpy and serious. I went back on Tuesday and I got to school at 8.45 (we are supposed to be in at 8.40) Because I was 5 minutes late my form tutor gave me 500 lines as punishment to be handed in the following day. I had my homework on top of that and I knew I’d be punished by subject teachers if it wasn’t completed, I thought my form tutor would give me some breathing space if I explained it the next day. But because I didn’t hand in the lines the following day she increased the punishment to 800 lines. It was awful, my fingers ached so much (but I guess that’s part of the punishment!) She also called my parents to tell them she had had to discipline me - my parents were totally on her side and even told her that they would support any further punishment. Then, of course, I was punished by my parents. But all the teachers seem so stressed and frustration - maybe it’s cos of lockdown. They’ve also introduced collective punishments - so if you’re with a friend and they break school rules, you are also punished as severely as they are just for being there. They just seem to be coming down very heavily on us. I don’t know if I’m over-reacting but it does seem unfair to be so harshly punished. Is it unfair?

Submitted by anna_v3r on Thu, 06/04/2020 - 09:21

The schools in Italy don't have detention or lines as a punishment like in UK. We have exclusion and suspension and the teachers can give you a note, call your parents and send you to the headteacher if you have a bad behaviour.

Submitted by mmatildepontoni04 on Wed, 06/03/2020 - 14:44

I have never been punished at school because I have always a good behaviour. In my school there are strict rules such as suspension and exclusion

Submitted by darua2626 on Wed, 05/27/2020 - 21:16

Discipline is very important, it needs to be given special attention, but there is no need to overdo it. After all, a school is a place of obtaining knowledge, not disciplinary action

Submitted by gio_cra2004 on Fri, 04/24/2020 - 17:03

I have never been punished at school because I am always respectful of teachers and classmates. I think it is right for the school to take measures for those who deserve them.

Submitted by vittoriadigianno on Fri, 04/24/2020 - 12:41

in my class, discipline problems are punished with disciplinary notes and suspension. i have been punished at school more than once because i was speaking during the lessons.

Submitted by Gabriele1926 on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 15:31

In my school the punishments are right, if we don't do homework, if we answer badly to a teacher or others things like these, we receive a note. But for other bad behavior more serius, the schools can suspend you or exclude you. In my first year of middle school, I was been suspended two times, becouse I was very disrespectful and infant.

Submitted by Matteo on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 14:43

yes, i get some trouble because of my joking behaviour in class but I only take some notes for it, nothing too serious. In my school the teacher used to write notes but if is something too serious they call your family and you can even be suspended for a week

Submitted by giogiomas on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 14:42

I have never been suspended from school, but I have taken notes for my behavior. It is important to respect others, the work of teachers and classmates, so I think it is right to punish who do not behave correctly.

Submitted by alaricofranca02 on Wed, 04/22/2020 - 08:41

my school helps kids who misbehave trying to understand why they behave that way. yes in middle and elementary school I was punished several times for various things

Submitted by laanilla23 on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:17

Hi users! My name is Ana and I'm from somewhere. In my highschool is forbidden ,both teachers and students,to punish. However we have,as in most of highschools, punishments for those who misbehave, like a suspention. From my point of view, I believe I'm a good student and I have rarely received a punishment.

Submitted by Yosoyyoporquesoyyo on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:12

In the following lines I am going to talk about what my opinion about the punishments in my school. In my opinion there are good punishments like detention which depend about the what they have done or putting parts which are like advertisements and when you have 3 you will goe to your house X days. On the other hand there are bad punishments like stay after classes because I think that you don't need to stay in class when the lessons were finish. That's all.

Submitted by lruizlosar on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:04

Hi! Here in Spain when you have a bad behaviour the teachers put you a negative point but if it's very bad they can punish you with a report. When you have 3 reports you are expelled from the high school.

Submitted by Claraa on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:04

Hello! I live in Spain. In my school there isn´t strict punishments, if someone do something bad he or she has to talk with the leadership for a suspension and they call to parents. Another punishment is detention and lines at the time of the playground.

Submitted by Lolita on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 08:02

Hello! I live in Spain. Here the education system doesn't allow teachers punish so hard pupils. In my highschool I have never been punished because I am a good student. But for the annoying student maybe teachers call their parents and they are punished at break without going out to the playground.

Submitted by acambrafal on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 07:58

Well, I live in Spain. Here when we have a bad behaviour, firstly they demand our attention. If you still having that attitude they put negative marks to you that bring your final marks -0.1 less. In case you insult a teacher or break one of the high school rules they penalise you with a report, which is sent to your parents to let them know. The accumulation of these reports leads to the expulsion for 1 day to 1 week. It depends on the number of reports you have. Well, in my case, I have never been punished with a report but I have been given some negative points because of talking during lessons. Greetings.

Submitted by aariiaanneeee on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 07:57

Usually in Spain we have the same bad behaviour conception as they threated us with a "parte" and with three of them, they make you go home for a day or maybe three days.

Submitted by Lajuls_ on Fri, 11/29/2019 - 07:34

Normally, in Spain detention is during the break and not after class. In addition, if you don’t go there, you receive a warning called “parte”. If you have 3 of them, you get expelled for a day. The more partes you get, the more days you are expelled. From my experience, I have never been a problematic student, therefore I have never got a “parte”, which by the way is a thing that my parents are proud of.

Submitted by Lolaaa on Thu, 11/28/2019 - 20:02

Hi! I am from Spain! In my high school there are some punishments if you have a bad behaviour, like: -Exclusion -Lines -Suspension -Call to parents Last year my teacher punished me by calling my parents for talking to my partner all the time so after the discussion i didn't do it again. But i don't think my high school is very strict.

Submitted by Fugasboy214 on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 05:41

I study in Ukraine. We do not have as current penalties for violation. There is abandonment after lessons, sending to the director. That's all

Submitted by Bogdan777 on Thu, 11/07/2019 - 19:15

Hey. I also study in Ukraine. There are several punishments in Ukrainian schools: -Diary note -Call to parents/Calling parents to school -Staying after lessons -Go to the director.

In reply to by Fugasboy214

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Submitted by Youjiro on Tue, 03/05/2019 - 13:15

In my country high school doesn't punished student.because parents has more power then teacher.School teacher couldn't exclusion student to another school.Some school is strict for their behaviour during class.We may not use smart phone and may not drink tea.but most high school is not strict student what they do.Teacher pay attention for school bully and uniform .High school teacher recognize school bully is biggest problem.anyway I had punishment whenever I forget homework.I did extra home work and clean my class room.but High school teacher don't want to do that .some parents argue after punished student.
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