Monday, July 21, 2008

No kidding

[HT: Tim Harford] So it doesn't take much. From BBC News:

A Norfolk headteacher has said there have been no exclusions from his school since he started rewarding pupils with chocolate for good behaviour.

Dr Andrew Sheppard began the scheme in 2005, since when exclusion days at Redcastle Furze Primary in Thetford have dropped from 65 a year to zero....

But Dr Sheppard said: "It has improved behaviour, they are polite and... they have a sense of responsibility."

In September 2005, Dr Sheppard pledged to give all 240 pupils a bar of chocolate if they made it to the half term break without any exclusions.

The scheme proved so successful it was extended term by term. Since then discos, picnics and Easter eggs have been handed out.

But, of course, there were detractors:

"We had people saying how terrible it was that we were bribing children and it was unsustainable," he said.

"We had complaints saying we were contributing to childhood obesity and rotting teeth.

"But the children really liked it and it really works."

Dr Sheppard said he hoped other schools would follow his lead.

Earlier this year in an internet poll of 2,581 parents, 27% said teachers were giving their children sweets and three-quarters thought it was a bad idea.

At the time the School Food Trust said it would be better to use healthy food as a reward.

Yes, and exactly what quantity of healthy food would achieve this outcome? None, I'd say, unless of course you banned all food at school and they only got some if they were well behaved.