At Phoenix, we won’t worry too much about discipline. Our teachers will all have spent their careers training young men and women—many of them from tough council estates—to do difficult and demanding jobs. They will know that in a modern volunteer force, harsh discipline doesn’t work: officers and NCOs have to command the respect of their men and women. And respect is a two-way street—our pupils will be treated with respect, no matter who their parents are.
Our teachers will embody the Army’s core values of moral courage, self-discipline, respect for others, integrity, and loyalty. They will all be trained in the military Methods of Instruction syllabus—and they will all know their jobs.
The most important part of that job is to ensure that all of their pupils are always constructively engaged and always succeeding academically. It is very rare for pupils to have behaviour problems when they are making good progress in their studies.
Zero tolerance of minor misbehaviour is absolutely crucial. It’s natural for kids to test adults to see what they can get away with. If they can’t get away with any kind of mischief, they very quickly learn that it’s better to play the game. But punishments must be swift, sure and fair. They should never humiliate.
We will have a clear code of behaviour. No mobile phones or electronic devices will be permitted in school. Swearing and insulting behaviour will result in instant punishments. School uniforms will be ironed and neatly worn. Between classes, no shouting or shoving will be tolerated.
Of course, there will always be cases where pupils seriously overstep the mark. We aim to have a happy crew, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we tried to pretend that none of our pupils would ever bully or attack another pupil, and never bring contraband into school.
When pupils break the law, they will be reported to the police and social services. They will also be subject to our own sanctions, which could involve restorative justice, community service, or being taught in isolation. We won’t blame parents—rather, they will be treated as partners. After all, we both want the best for the child—and we both want to keep them out of trouble.
If, despite the best efforts of our teachers and pastoral staff, pupils appear to have emotional or behavioural problems, they will be referred to CAMHS (Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service). We do not believe it is wise to expect teachers to act as amateur psychotherapists.
We hope we never have to exclude a pupil. But if it is clearly necessary—such as in the case of an assault with a weapon, or dealing drugs inside the school, we will not hesitate for a second to permanently exclude the offender. Phoenix will not be a refuge for juvenile felons.