News

Dealing with School Latecomers

10 March 2010

This morning, Western Cape Education Minister Donald Grant visited Maitland High School in support of their principal, Mr Kenny, and his methods to deter late comers.

"The principal has adopted a method whereby discipline is upheld and the safety of learners protected. The names of latecomers are recorded in a register at the school gate. Learners who are late are then required to stay after school for detention," said Grant.

"I believe strongly that schools should adopt firm, fair and consistent methods in preventing high volumes of latecomers. We have to ensure "time on task" in order to improve our education outcomes. Therefore, I encourage the methods being adopted at this school. It is both firm in its approach and is consistent everyday. It is also fair, as learners who have 'just cause' as to why they are late, are exempted from detention."

Grant visited the school two weeks ago to speak to the principal after a group of late learners became disruptive after refusing to register their names at the gate on the 18th of February. The learners felt it was unfair to have their names registered given that their train had been late.

"The principal presented me with the train schedules that he receives each morning, indicating which trains are either delayed or on time. He is therefore able to establish which learners had been late because of train delays. They are then exempted from detention that afternoon," he said.

"This, I believe, is fair. However, learners must also take some responsibility. This morning over 100 learners were late for school. After checking the train schedule, it was revealed that a number of trains had been running late. If their trains are consistently late, then they need to catch an earlier train."

Grant said that every effort must be made by learners to arrive at school punctual and prepared. Schools also needed to adopt measures to improve punctuality.

Maitland High School has come to the following arrangement with its learners:

    1. The names of latecomers will be recorded daily at the school gates.
    2. Latecomers will be sent to detention that same day.
    3. Grade leaders will determine whether there are any circumstances that lead to late arrivals, and exempt, from detention, those that had been affected.
    4. Learners who fail to arrive at detention will be given letters for their parents, asking them to meet with the principal.

"All schools must adopt a zero tolerance approach towards late comers and introduce progressive discipline, as done at Maitland," said Grant.

"However, each school does have their own set of unique circumstances. While this method works at Maitland, other schools have had to adopt other measures."

Grant said that if it is within the law, and it shows positive results, then he would support our schools.

"We need to take a hard line on this. Too many of our learners are missing valuable teaching time because of tardiness. If a learner cannot show 'just cause' as to why he or she is late, then action needs to be taken. The same principle applies to our teachers. "

Media Enquiries: 

Bronagh Casey
Spokesperson
Minister of Education, Donald Grant
Western Cape
Cell: 072 724 1422
Tel: 021 467 2377