Background

Horizon English Medium School is located in a quiet lane of Gaikwad Nagar with an adjoining lane filled with hustle and bustle of a small market. Most students who attend the school are from Gaikwad Nagar while a few from the neighbouring community of Vijay Nagar.

Horizon English Medium School aims to provide holistic education to all its students with a homely atmosphere. It stands to ‘provide a conducive environment to develop minds to be active and creative’. According to the School Leader Ms Suneeta Desai, even though the school is situated in a rural area, she wishes her students to stand out and achieve recognition on national and state level in academics, co-curricular activities and sports. Furthermore, School Leader envisions to make all her students confident and independent individuals.

School Leader, Ms Suneeta Desai has been with the school for almost three years. She joined the ISLI Fellowship Programme, Cohort 2019-21 in May 2019.

Challenge faced by the School Leader

Ms Suneeta had been hearing many complaints about her teachers engaging in corporal punishment for a long time. Often parents would reach out to her to report various incidents of corporal punishment. Although the School Leader could have taken strict actions against her teachers such as termination, she decided to take a different and more sustainable route. School Leader wanted to change the mindset of her teachers. She believed that they need to understand the long-term impact of their actions on children in order to never repeat the same.

ISLI intervention

ISLI’s workshop session on Corporal Punishment deeply moved Ms Suneeta. Even though she was doing her research on it, she decided to recreate the ISLI session as a hook to ensure that her message is imbibed by all of her teachers.

ISLI Programme Manager, Payal Sharma supported the School Leader to understand the nuances of the challenge and find alternatives to it. Ms Suneeta worked with the Programme Manager, Payal to conduct extensive surveys, school walkthroughs and detailed discussions with students and parents. The data collected from surveys and other research helped the School Leader identify teachers who engage in corporal punishment. This data was valuable as the School Leader could back her observations with it.

The School Leader combined ISLI session with her research and created an exclusive session for her teachers. She practised it with her School Leadership Team (SLT) before delivering it to her teachers. She pro-actively took feedback to ensure her session is as effective as possible.

School Leadership Team (SLT) at Horizon English Medium School

Impact on teachers and students

  1. The session conducted by School Leader was extremely moving. Most of the teachers were emotional by the end of it and voluntarily promised that they would not engage in corporal punishment and will emerge as better and more patient teachers.
  2. School Leader also created a space for development conversation for her teachers who still engage in corporal punishment – A 360-degree feedback conversation between the teacher, student and School Leader to understand what drove the teacher to behave in a certain way. Through this conversation, student also realises the impact of his/her behaviour on his/her teacher.
  3. School Leader also takes every complaint of corporal punishment very seriously by investigating the entire issue with the help of her SLT and all stakeholders involved in the incident. School Leader plans on setting mutual consequences with her teachers to ensure complete eradication of corporal punishment in her school.

    Display charts in classrooms

  4. School Leader is also creating a plan to make student council, an active body to prevent corporal punishment.
  5. The School Leader has developed various skills during this process. Some of which are:
    • Presentation and facilitation skills
    • Research, data collection and analysis
    • People management skills
    • Decision making

Next Steps

School Leader, Ms Suneeta understood that a problem like corporal punishment must be eradicated from school systems and it cannot be dealt in a strict manner. Termination of teachers who engage in corporal punishment would simply mean that she is pushing the issue under the rug. Hence she decided to start with changing the mindset of her teachers. She actively engages with the students in the conversation so that they understand that any kind of corporal punishment is unacceptable. She hopes to continue working on it and create a zero-tolerance policy to corporal punishment in her school.

- Written by Payal Sharma, ISLI Programme Manager, Pune

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