Journal Article

Structuring student behaviour: discipline policy in primary schools

December 18, 2017

Irish Teachers' Journal, Vol. 5, No. 1, December 2017, pp. 9-24

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School discipline has been a prominent feature of debates in educational policy but much less attention has been given to the factors influencing the approach to discipline taken by individual schools. This article uses information collected from school principals as part of the large-scale longitudinal Growing Up in Ireland study to explore the frequency with which different forms of discipline are used in primary schools and the extent to which the approach taken varies across schools. The approach to discipline used in primary schools appears to be based on assumptions about the nature of the student body in terms of gender and social background, with more punitive measures used with boys and those at opposite ends of the social spectrum. Furthermore, schools with male principals are more likely to use punitive measures. There is considerable variation among individual schools, suggesting the strong influence of school history and culture on behaviour policy.