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Gating is a type of punishment similar to a detention used typically at educational institutions, especially boarding schools. Precisely what a gating consists of and the rules surrounding it will vary between institutions, but the common element is that someone who has been gated is not permitted to leave the establishment. The word is used as both a noun and a verb.
Rather than attempt to cover every variation this example describes the procedures that might be used at a typical weekly-boarding school, where most pupils live at school during the week and return home at weekends. Gatings are awarded for relatively serious offenses such as bullying, deliberate vandalism or persistent smoking at school; a pupil awarded a gating during the week is then required to stay at school over the coming weekend instead of going home.
During this time, the person who has been gated will be given some work to do, usually a mixture of academic and manual tasks. Manual tasks might be useful (for example, removing litter or repairing vandalism) or they might be deliberately futile or pointless (collecting stones from a field, folding underwear in the laundry when such garments are not usually returned folded). The amount of work ordered would depend on the severity of the offence, and in any case some free time would normally be allowed.
Although a gating would usually take place at the end of the week in which the offense was committed, at the discretion of the awarding teacher and the pupil's housemaster or -mistress it can sometimes be moved if the pupil would otherwise miss some important event, rendering the punishment more severe than is appropriate. This is not a right, however, and cannot be relied upon.
In theory, day pupils as well as boarders can be gated since their house will be able to arrange accommodation for the weekend. Day pupils are typically less likely to be awarded a gating, however, though it's unclear whether this is due to teachers' reluctance to make somebody stay in school who does not normally do so (and attendant organisational issues) or because the types of offences for which gatings are awarded tend to occur outside normal school hours when day pupils are less likely to be present.
Parents are expected to endorse the school's decisions in this matter, particularly since it is a punishment used (probably exclusively) in independent schools which the parents will have deliberately selected to educate their children. In the past, this was simply an understanding assumed between school and parent, but in recent years the possibility of out-of-hours punishments is normally written into the contract signed when a pupil starts at the school.
Gatings are regarded by someTemplate:Who? as overused. A 'Savage' Gating, as it is commonly known, lasts from Wednesday to Wednesday at Westminster School. As well as an hour and a half after each day, the pupils have to, for no apparent reason, waste their Saturday afternoons in a 2 hour punishment. New laws could mean pupils can take legal action against gating masters.
- Fenton, Ben (2007-02-12). "Cameron: from Eton drugs to Oxford excess". London: The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542377/Cameron-from-Eton-drugs-to-Oxford-excess.html. Retrieved 2008-08-13.