DISCIPLINE

The primary and middle school has a ‘no money’ policy and students are not allowed to bring any money to school except where specific permission is given, for example, to pay for books or as part of a project. All their needs, including stationery, are included in the school fee and therefore money is not needed.

Mobile telephones may be brought for the highest grade in middle school (grade 8) as some go to other activities directly from school, but they may not be used during the day. In the high school there is a no ring policy which states it is forbidden to hear phones ringing in the school, otherwise they are banned for the whole community of students. This works well as a policy. Phones are strictly forbidden in classes in both schools for both teachers and students.

Both schools have a policy which emphasizes finding solutions to discipline issues through dialogue and action plans. A detailed policy has been worked out by staff in both schools in this regard and is available in the parent handbook.

In the primary and middle school counsellors are often called upon to provide support and deal with the root of a problem which might arise. Parents are actively brought in as part of the process and the school works together with families to deal with behavioural issues which are persistent. When a solution is not forthcoming there are means available to punish students either through withdrawal of privileges, or, in more extreme cases, exclusion from school. However, in general, a positive atmosphere reigns in the school and resort to the extremes is very rare.

In the high school a similar policy is followed with active action taken immediately. There is a discipline code, published by the Ministry of Education, which is the last resort position for offending students. The counsellor will provide active support in helping resolve persistent cases. A formal discipline committee is appointed at the beginning of each year to deal with particular problems which cannot be resolved through positive action. Again, there is a good atmosphere in the high school and issues are solved prior to getting out of hand.

The schools have an excellent reputation for discipline. Smoking, alcohol abuse, and drugs are not problems which confront the school population in the Özel Bilkent Schools. There is constant security provided by the University and all comers to the school have to declare their identity. Teachers within the primary and middle schools have an electronic card system to tap in their presence in the school.

Teachers are responsible for good order and discipline in the classroom through exercising their classroom management skills. It is forbidden in the Turkish system to exclude children from a classroom for whatever reason, and so any action taken has to be dealt with following sound pedagogical principles. Counsellors will provide extended back-up work with students who are signalled as having behavioural issues but will not step in to resolve poor classroom management.

New international staff have to adjust to managing a classroom in which the first language of the students is not English. This may initially present challenges but support is available. These challenges are part of dealing with foreign language learning contexts such as the Özel Bilkent Schools, the mastering of which adds new dimensions to a classroom teacher or an ESL/EFL teacher’s repertoire and experience.

Overall, the emphasis of the school’s discipline policy is to develop respectful minds and ethical minds, to quote from a video conference in Ankara by Howard Gardner.

All schools in Turkey are no smoking zones and cigarettes may not be used on any part of the premises. New staff need to be aware that the right to leave the premises for smoking breaks is restricted and limited.