To fulfil its vision, every public school is empowered (by section 8 of the South African Schools Act of l996) to draw up a code of conduct. The code sets out to explain the rules through which the rights and corresponding responsibilities of each pupil are realised. Once formulated, approved and announced, the code has the force of law. The code is currently being revised.
The purpose of the code of conduct is to establish a disciplined, safe and purposeful school environment, dedicated to the improvement and maintenance of the quality of the learning process.
Sanctions must change rather than punish misbehaviour. We believe in restorative discipline. A misdemeanour requires a pupil to make amends with those offended or harmed, as part of the sanction. All disciplinary interactions have a pastoral element. We seek to identify the source of misbehaviour and not just to tackle the symptoms thereof. To that end, we have both an educational psychologist and guidance counsellor who are constantly tending to the needs of pupils. The rules are also clearly defined so that pupils are aware of their boundaries.
Ultimately, pupils will face suspension and a hearing before the school’s governing body if they seriously transgress the code of conduct.
We have 4 categories of offences:
- Category 1 offences are dealt with by the educator at hand;
- Category 2 offences are dealt with by the grade heads;
- For category 3 offences, the parents are involved in a disciplinary intervention;
- Category 4 offences involve a disciplinary hearing with the school governing body.
This is not a “paint-by-numbers” approach. We walk the tightrope between consistency and individualised treatment as every misdemeanour provides an opportunity to educate. After all, that is what we are … educators.
Rights & Responsibilities
For quality learning to take place, certain rights and responsibilities need to be recognised, including the right to:
- personal safety and security of property;
- a clean and functional environment;
- fair treatment;
- to be listened to and to be heard;
- an undisturbed work environment with access to knowledge, skills and resources;
- have one’s progress assessed.
With every right there is a matching responsibility. To protect the rights of individuals, it is the responsibility of each pupil to not only refrain from infringing on the rights of fellow pupils, but also to prevent others from doing so.
In order to maintain a disciplined and effective learning environment, pupils are expected to be mature and responsible.
Pupils can make a positive contribution by being honest, diligent, friendly, punctual, neat and courteous. They must behave in a manner which is respectful to all cultures and to the rights of all. In addition, it is the duty of all pupils to protect the rights of others.
Commitments must be honoured.
Homework and daily review should be routine and deadlines must be met.