One of the ideas he pushed quite strongly was to do away with the requirement to provide parents with 24 hours notice of detention. Good soundbite: let's get tough on the little blighters, show 'em who's boss, eh?
But I wonder how many schools would actually make use of the legal right to detain without notice? There are good reasons why schools give parents 24 hours notice; and those reasons don't go away if you remove the legal requirement for notice.
I believe that detaining children after school without notice would do nothing other than damage the relationship between school and parent. Many pupils have familial responsibilities outside school time, from collecting younger siblings to doing shopping on the way home. They may also have appointments with a dentist or doctor.
How thrilled would you be if your family visit to see Gran in hospital was kiboshed by little Johnny being an hour late home from school without notice? Even if a child didn’t have a commitment after school, many are wily enough to claim one – leaving the teacher in the position of having to either substantiate the claim with a phone call home or accept it:
‘OK, I’ll phone your mum to check you really do have to report to the police station.’
‘You can’t, me mum’s at work.’
‘OK, I’ll phone her at work, then.’
‘Yer can’t do that ‘cos she won’t give the school the number ‘cos she doesn’t want to be disturbed at work.’
(No, I really did have that conversation once.)
It's simply not worth it for schools to implement a no-notice after school detention; it would undo much of the work schools do to build a positive, supportive relationship with parents. Behaviour systems and policies always work best when they are fully supported by parents. Detention without notice does nothing to bring parents on-side.
Whatever the legal rights, schools should always take into account pupil’s home circumstances when it comes to detaining after school - and this is difficult enough even with 24 hours notice, let alone none. So thanks, Mr Cameron, but I think you've offered us a bit of a chocolate teapot there, mate.