At the beginning of this school year our faculty instituted a centralised detention system (CDS). Once it is set up, it’s a very simple system to run and a few people have asked me how we set it up so I thought I would write the below in case anyone would find it useful.

1. Get people on board

There is no point setting up a CDS unless people want it. You don’t want to set up a CDS and then have no one in your faculty use it.

They are also more effective the more staff involved. Obviously best would be whole-school but if you have to suffice with less it will still be effective.

Some people don’t believe that CDSs are a good thing so you can always direct them to some reading here from Tom Bennett or here from Rosalind Walker.

2. What management information system do you use?

We use Sims, as do around 80% of schools in the UK. This blog is set up to deal with Sims but the principles are relatively straightforward to transfer across to other systems. You can just use a central shared Excel document too so keep reading just skip all the Sims references.

It is worth noting that Sims does have its own in-built detention module but I’ve found it to be clunky and difficult to analyse and pick up on multiple offenders.

3. Find the data manager

The steps here are pretty simple, but if you are a relative Sims novice it will definitely be easier if you work with your data manager.

You will definitely need them to add an option for a behaviour consequence. I asked our manager to add to the “action taken” field in a Sims behaviour event the option for “Science detention.” It is vital that you have something here that is unique to the people participating in the CDS i.e. your faculty. So whether it is “history detention” or “centralised detention” or whatever, just make sure no one else in the school is going to use it.

4. Pick a day for your detention

Pick a day, time and place for your detention. Let’s say you pick Tuesday lunch in A105. If a student gets a detention on Wednesday, their detention will be on the following Tuesday. Same applies for Thursday, Friday and the following Monday. If a student gets a detention on the Tuesday, set the detention not for that day, but for the following Tuesday. I know a week feels like a long time but you will have problems if you do it for that day.

Obviously the teacher should inform the student when and where their detention is. This can be done in their planner through a written comment or you can get stickers made or whatever.

The point of this is accountability. You will have hundreds of students telling you they weren’t told about their detention. Their teacher won’t remember and it’s impossible to know if tales are being told or there was a teacher error (which happens). So you need to make it fool-proof by writing in the planner.

Alternative fool-proofing routes:

  • Write in the comment box in Sims “told explicitly date of detention”
  • When you run the report (which will be your register) just stick it to the door outside your office. Email all parents to tell them their child is expected to check it on a Tuesday to see if they have a detention. This means you can always just say “you should have checked”

5. Write a simple report

You can use the “design report” function in Sims to write a report that looks a bit like this:


This is how the report works:

  • When the report is opened it asks for a date range – this is when the behaviour event was. So if your detentions are Tuesday then it will be from the previous Tuesday until Monday (yesterday)
  • The report finds any behaviour event within that range which also has “Science detention” in the “action taken” field.
  • It gives you information about that behaviour event: which teacher set it, what happened, any notes
  • It also gives you information about the student’s parents so if you need to you can just contact them without having to faff around looking for their details

I have exported my report but can’t attach it to WordPress. I’ve put the link here but don’t know if it will work.

6. Sub-reports

The three blue squares are called “sub-reports” and can all be found on the left hand panel (the one that starts “basic details”). When you select them, you can use the button on the right of the screen with the blue arrow to set your filters. This is the important bit as it will give you the chance to set your date range and pick the “action taken” (which is “outcome” here) as “science detention.


The second sub-report filters for contact and you will want to tick the little box with “display first record only” as you only want one contact detail per student, you don’t want to get in touch with everyone that Sims has stored as a contact.

The third sub-report gives you their attendance mark for that morning. This is important as it means if someone doesn’t show up you can see if they are ill or absent without having to go hunting in Sims.

You will want the first and third sub reports to “prompt when opening” so that whenever you run the report you can set your date range.

Also make sure when you build your report it exports to Excel not Word.

7. Run the report

When it’s detention day, run the report. Don’t do it too early in the morning as you are going to want to wait till all the am registration marks are in and have been dealt with. I normally run it in first break.

If your detention were a Tuesday, and today was Tuesday 20/3/18 this is what the pop up screen would look like after I entered all the correct dates.


You end up with an Excel printout that looks like this (though populated with students and events)


8. Export to a central register

I keep a central register that looks like the below. This is what we use to take the register on the day, and the coloured field tells me how many detentions a given student has. We can then escalate to after school or put on report or whatever.


9. Following up

The final thing is to make sure that :

  • Teachers are following the procedures correctly
  • Repeat offenders are being escalated
  • You use Excel’s analyses tools (like pivot tables) to identify specific areas (e.g. a specific class or type of offense)

Anyway I hope that helps. Get in touch below if you have any questions.