The key to good behaviour - chocolate

WHEN detentions, suspensions, 100 lines and all other traditional forms of punishment failed, a Norfolk headteacher took drastic action to tackle disruptive students.

WHEN detentions, suspensions, 100 lines and all other traditional forms of punishment failed, a Norfolk headteacher took drastic action to tackle disruptive students.

Three years on, a primary school in Thetford declared itself an exclusion-free zone yesterday after revealing the secret to good behaviour - chocolate.

Andrew Sheppard, head of Redcastle Furze Primary, hit national headlines in 2005 after it emerged that he had resorted to offering sweets to pupils to stamp out bad behaviour, bullying and fighting.

Staff, students, and parents were celebrating yesterday after it emerged that the school had not recorded a single exclusion day since the introduction of a controversial incentive scheme three years ago.


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The primary school's 240 children were treated to a free hog roast lunch, games and a disco as a reward for another year in which no one had to be suspended.

Dr Sheppard said he hoped other educational institutions in the region could adopt the radical idea, which came about after the Thetford school's five to 11-year-olds experienced 65 exclusion days in the 2004/05 academic year.

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The headteacher prompted outrage from healthy eating campaigners after he pledged to give a chocolate bar to every pupil if they made it to the half-term break without anyone being excluded.

The scheme had such a positive impact on behaviour that the school continued the scheme from term to term offering discos, Easter eggs, picnics in the Thetford Forest, and other entertainment in return for good behaviour.

Dr Sheppard said he was “hammered” by critics when he first started the initiative, but the school was now benefiting from the “zero tolerance” disciplinary line that was rewarding children when they followed the rules.

“We had people from the UEA saying how terrible it was we were bribing children and it was unsustainable. We had complaints from the British Dental Association saying we were contributing to childhood obesity and rotting teeth, but the children really liked it and it really works.”

“It has improved behaviour, they are polite, they are welcoming and they all have a sense of responsibility and look out for each other. They now have an ethos that they are special and the school is special,” he said.

Dr Sheppard added that attendance had also gone up from 83pc to 95pc since the scheme started. Parents and pupils praised the incentive scheme as they tucked into their hog roast lunch yesterday.

Beth-Ann Singer, 11, said: By bribing the kids to behave we get more responsibility and the teachers can trust us more.”

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