‘Bach to Basics’ in school detention

Classical music improves behaviour at a Derby school


Classical music has been credited with reducing bad behaviour at a Derby school. In West Park School’s Friday evening detentions, dubbed ‘Bach to Basics’, offending pupils have to spend an hour listening to classical music in silence. 


‘Hopefully, I open their ears to an experience they don’t normally have and it seems many of them don’t want to have it again – so it’s both educational and acts as a deterrent,’ says headteacher Brian Walker, who came up with the idea, in the Derby Evening Telegraph. ‘It is also commonly acknowledged that classical music has a calming effect to the end of the week, which pupils have also said.’

Students are also shown educational DVDs, and end their detentions by writing up what they have learnt. Another punishment is writing out Walker’s favourite poem, William Blake’s Jerusalem. Walker believes that both statistics and pupil comments show the detentions have been effective. Four years ago, around 60 pupils were out of lessons due to bad behaviour: now the number has dropped to around 20. The school also had its best GCSE results to date last year.


However, pupils are yet to be convinced about the merits of a musical detention. ‘Last year was a nightmare. An hour of Mr Walker’s music is a real killer,’ says one pupil in The Daily Telegraph. Another commented: ‘Two hours for a school detention is a long time to sit in silence. You really don’t want to go back in there.’