Examination of Witnesses (Questions 126-175)|
Gillian Allcroft, Mike Griffiths, Russell Hobby,
27 October 2010
Q126 Chair: Good morning. Welcome
to this meeting of the Education Committee. We are grateful that
the four of you have come to give evidence to us today. If you're
happy and comfortable with it, we'll use your first names. Let's
crack on through the questioning on the subject of behaviour and
discipline. When we took evidence last week, we were told that
in general standards of behaviour and discipline are improving
and that, although there is work still to do, one could be happy
with the general direction. Would you all concur with that?
Mike Griffiths: I'll go first.
The evidence collected from groups such as Ofsted would seem to
be that is. Clearly, it's always been an issue ever since I started
teaching 34 years ago and, I suspect, ever since Aristotle or
whoever was writing about young people being disrespectful compared
with the older generation and so on. I suspect it is a bit of
a generational thing. My perception would be that in schools,
yes, behaviour is improving.
Gillian Allcroft: I would concur
with that. It's what Ofsted has reported. Clearly there is always
room for improvementthere are always behaviour issuesbut
generally it is getting better.
Charlie Taylor: Yes, again, I'd
agree. There has always been a sense that this is the worst generation
we've ever had and that things are getting worse and worse, but
I don't feel that's the case at all. I think there have been some
significant improvements in behaviour. A lot of that is linked
to improvements in teaching as well.
Russell Hobby: Yes, I would agree
with that, but small incidences of bad behaviour cast quite a
long shadow and have a disproportionate impact, so it is right
to focus on the minority of cases where we do want to improve
Q127 Chair: According to Sir Alan
Steer in the various pieces of work that he has doneand
almost everyone else agreesquality of teaching is the most
important thing in improving behaviour and discipline. I don't
know whether it's just since we have had the rarely cover provisions,
but there seems to be increasing evidence of TAs ending up taking
classes. Someone who is not even qualified as a teacher sometimes
takes classes, which must surely undermine the quality of the
teaching and thus make it less likely that people will experience
consistent behaviour and discipline in the classroom. Have you
any comments to make on that, Russell?
Russell Hobby: There are three
things that drive behaviour in schools, quality of teaching being
one of them; the consistency of the behaviour policy across the
whole school and how well that is implemented is another and,
of course, parental attitudes towards schoolsit is those
three things together. Appropriate use of teaching assistants
within a good behaviour policy needn't undermine behaviour at
all, but the inappropriate use of people without the qualifications
to do it would have that impact. Of course, if you're not being
stimulated in your lessons, you're more likely to misbehave or
to be alienated from school.
Q128 Chair: Is there any evidence
that TAs are being used inappropriately and that that is having
Mike Griffiths: I don't know whether
inappropriate is the right word. In secondary schools, it is not
so much teaching assistants as the new breed of cover supervisors
that has evolved with the work force reforms. In a school such
as mine we need, when we appoint them, to make sure that they
are trained, because they are not teachers; they supervise work
that has been set by teachers. Clearly, however, it can be an
issue. It is something that is worthy of further debate and research
about the impact of non-teachers supervising classes at work.
Certainly, if there is a significant amount of absence in a school
and a youngster has several periods of cover supervision during
the course of a day, then I would imagine that behaviour could
become an issue.
Q129 Chair: Do you have any comment
on that, Gillian?
Gillian Allcroft: No, we have
no evidence on that.
Chair: Okay, with no further ado I will
cede to Craig.
Q130 Craig Whittaker: Good morning
everybody. I want to talk about the new powers, specifically powers
of restraint; the permanent exclusions and the independent appeals
panels; and the removal of 24-hour notice of detention. Do you
agree with the new proposals and do any of you wish to comment
specifically on any of those three issues?
Russell Hobby: I suppose the most
ringing endorsement I can give for them is that they are fine.
The trouble is that it's not the giving of new powers; it's how
we use powers at the moment, and there is a wide range of existing
legislation that isn't fully exploited to make use of that. In
specific terms, the proposals for anonymity are welcome, because
a relatively small proportion of accusations actually result in
any action being taken and it causes immense trauma. The powers
for search are fine. I don't think the idea of removing notice
for detention for outside school hours is a helpful suggestion.
I think the impact on parents of not giving them notice would
not help the relationship with the school.
Mike Griffiths: At the risk of
being rather boring, I think ASCL, too, would welcome the new
powers from the point of view that at least they provide a signal
to parents and youngsters that the Government will be supporting
schools and teachers in their attempts to make sure that discipline
is as good as it can be in a school. Similarly, the search powers
are fine, although it is strange that mobile devices such as telephones
are lobbed in there at the same time as drugs, knives and whatever
else. There is a bit of a confused message there, although I understand
why it has appeared. The search is common sense, I would hope,
and not a whole series of rules and regulations about it. I share
the welcome for anonymity, particularly because of the incidences
of the use of IT, websites and so on as a way of spreading information
and, dare one say, malicious gossip. I think anonymity is important.
I also share the notion that the item on detention is unhelpful.
Certainly, in my school, for simply pragmatic reasons, I will
not be allowing teachers to detain youngsters without giving notice.
That is partly because there are transport issues for youngstersin
some communities, where there are school buses to catch, it's
just simply not pragmaticbut also because one only has
to look forward to the November evenings and youngsters travelling
home in the dark and so on when the parents haven't been given
notice. You only need the first instance of something happening
on the way home, and schools will very quickly not want to put
themselves in that position.
Q131 Craig Whittaker: Is it fair
to say, then, that these are just extra powers in the toolbox
of things that are available for schools to use and that it's
entirely down to the head and the leadership team as to whether
they use them or not? If that is the case, why do you think that
previous tools in that toolbox have not been exercised by teachers?
Mike Griffiths: I'm not sure that
they haven't been exercised by teachers. I think teachers always
have used these powers. Detentions are not terribly useful. People
tend to try and find a more creative way of dealing with issues,
because to get good discipline you need to work with youngsters
and get their co-operation. Simply penalising and depriving them
of time and so on isn't always helpful. The only time when I think
it can be useful is when that time is used by the teacher to constructively
work with that individual child, in a way that they don't normally
have time to, to actually rebuild the relationship. Personally,
I am completely against the notion of what I think in some schools
is called faculty detention, where somebody else runs it. As far
as I can see, the only reason for keeping a youngster behind is
to enable me, as the teacher, to improve relationships with that
youngster, but that's unlikely to occur if the youngster perceives
the detention as being a period of almost imprisonment. Even in
such cases, detentions are better held at breaks and lunchtimes
than after school.
Charlie Taylor: The thing that
concerns me is the going of the independent panels. Having sat
in a former life as an LEA representative on those panels, the
decisions that actually did get turned over made me think, "Damn
right," because the school had run the show appallingly,
had failed to follow procedures and things hadn't been done right.
In the 2% or 3% of decisions that do get turned over, I don't
have a problem with that at all. The hands-on bit concerns me
a little, because, as I have seen in primary and secondary schools,
you get circumstances where teachers have been trained and therefore
they think that it's okay to lay hands on a pupil. The danger
is that that can escalate, things get worse and you then end up
with a situation where a pupil gets permanently excluded. So I
agree, provided the training is of high enough quality and teachers
really understand that it's the last resort. You don't want situations
where, as soon as there's a bit of disruption, a bigger teacher
just bundles the child out of the room. You don't want the message
going out to any child, "Because I am bigger and stronger
than you, I can get you to do stuff." A lot of our children
are coming into schools with that sort of message already and
the last thing we want to do is reinforce that message at school,
as well. I would add that a very positive bit that came out of
that, too, which was the positive touch that the Secretary of
State mentioned in terms of being able to comfort children and
making that emphatically okay to do. Some schools appear to have
a non-touch policy, so you have, say, a child of five, who's crying
their eyes out because they're missing their mother, and no one
is allowed to put their arms around them and give him or her a
cuddle. That seems ludicrous, and I am very glad that the Secretary
of State has clarified the law on that.
Q132 Craig Whittaker: Are you
saying that the initial teacher training is inadequate as it currently
Charlie Taylor: In terms of managing
Craig Whittaker: Yes.
Charlie Taylor: Yes, I think there
should be more. When I was trained, I probably had about half
a day on that in the entire course. It might be a day now, but
it's not much more than that.
Q133 Craig Whittaker: Do you want
to pick up on that, Mike?
Mike Griffiths: Yes. My school
runs a school-centred initial teacher training course. Where teacher
training is based in schools, there is probably a greater emphasis
on management of behaviour as a key issue. That is something that
I would like to see expanded. Other than that, I entirely agree.
My head teacher 30-odd years ago used to say, "Whatever you
doI implore you, I beseech youdon't touch the children,
whatever the provocation." His view, and mine as well, was
that as soon as you do, you automatically place yourself and the
school on the back foot. The focus is then on the behaviour on
the teacher, rather than on the behaviour the child, which led
to that response. My view is entirely that we should say to staff,
"Whatever you do, you still do not touch a child when you
are angry with the child because of their misbehaviour."
However, I well remember running under-13 football teams and knowing
which child would need a consoling arm around their shoulders
after they missed a penalty in the dying minutes of a cup game,
and it is just as important to do the same for a child who is
missing their parent.
Q134 Craig Whittaker: Gillian,
I will ask you my final question, which ties in with what we've
been talking about. If the Government do go ahead with removing
the right of appeal to an independent panel against permanent
exclusions, for example, would school governors be confident that
they can provide the same level of safeguarding to parents as
Gillian Allcroft: I think that
the answer is probably no, although not because governors wouldn't
try to do it properly. Governors already have to review certain
exclusions, and we already advocate that any governor doing that
should be properly trained. Even if governors are confident and
doing it properly, there is potential for the perception by parents
and pupils that the governors work hand in hand with the head,
so even if they've reviewed the head's decision, they're just
going to agree with what the head says. Even if you have agreed
it and the head has done everything marvellously and it's all
fine, and you have ratified the decision, there is still going
to be that perception that you haven't because you are just in
the pocket of the head. If you get rid of independent appeal panels,
the danger is that schools will end up in court. That is going
to be a massive cost for schools.
Q135 Craig Whittaker: Do you think
we are going to see fewer exclusions on the back of this happening?
Gillian Allcroft: It's very difficult
to say until a few schools have ended up in that situation. Personally,
I would keep independent appeal panels because I think that they
do a good job.
Russell Hobby: Can I weigh in
to reinforce that? It puts schools in a difficult situation. Exclusions
are a measure of desperation anyway, so whether they would influence
the number of thoseit is always the last resort. In terms
of natural justice and the way it appears, keeping independent
appeal panels will protect schools and make sure they use the
Mike Griffiths: I agree. Although
I've appeared in front of independent appeal panels and I didn't
like it, I think it is better that they remain because the alternative
would be even more unpleasant for me as a head. Although they
are not comfortable places to be, my only concern about them is
that sometimes they are almost too focused on determining whether
every last i has been dotted and every t crossed on procedural
items, rather than on the behaviour that might have led to that
exclusion. I still think that we probably need to retain them.
Q136 Ian Mearns: I have been a
chair of governors for secondary schools for 20 years, and I have
sat as a chair of governors at an appeal panel defending the school's
position. I haven't been turned over yet but I agree with you,
Mike, that quite often it isn't pleasant from the school's perspective.
However, in the different appeal panels that I've been to, the
running of the appeal panel has sometimes been very good, and
at other times, it has been decidedly iffy in terms of the way
that the chair has allowed the proceedings to get out of hand.
Do you think that there is a role for the appeal panels to be
much better trained in terms of their membership?
Charlie Taylor: In the ones that
I've sat on, I've been impressed by the expertise and generally
they have gone very welland I've sat on quite a few over
the years as an independent LEA rep.
Q137 Tessa Munt: I'd like to ask
you a few questions about preventing and managing exclusion, concentrating
on the prevention part first. Early identification of risk factors
seems to be one of the things that we might concentrate on. What
do you think are the risk factors that we should be taking into
Russell Hobby: The most obvious
risk factor is special educational needs. Children are eight times
more likely to be excluded if they have a statement. I'm not saying
that is something that justifies it, but clearly we are excluding
more children in those circumstances and that is probably where
we need to focus a lot of attention. Equally, exclusions are not
evenly distributed. Children on free school meals are more likely
to be excluded as well. I think we should focus our attention
on those points.
Q138 Tessa Munt:
Does anyone have anything else to add?
Charlie Taylor: I would simply
say, "Ask nursery school teachers." Go to a nursery
school and say to the teacher, "Which pupils in your class
are going to be causing disruption further down the road?"
There was a hideously depressing studyI am trying to remember
where I saw itthat got nursery school teachers to predict
which children would end up in prison and 15 years later, they
were completely right. If we are spotting these problems in nursery
school, why do we wait till the children have gone to secondary
school before we sling them out or do something about their behaviour?
I would put in a plug for my early intervention nursery at my
school, where we take eight pupils who have fallen out of some
sort of permanent education, and they spend two or three terms
with us. Ninety-six have gone through our unit and only seven
have come back with a statement for behaviour further down the
road. If you compare that with the recidivism rate of somewhere
like Feltham, which I guess is about 80%, it is a pretty good
case for early intervention with young children.
Q139 Tessa Munt:
Thank you. Now I want to draw you on a little bit further from
that, because it strikes me that some of the things that were
identified for us were: social and economic status, which is some
of the stuff that Russell has actually raised; poor attachment
with early carers, which might be a natural conclusion; reading
failure; and pupils going through school transition. The education
system can perhaps only have an effect on the latter two of those.
A 1974 study stated that reading failure was the only one of all
the various indicators that accurately predicted the later incidence
of violent and antisocial behaviour. If we look in our own country
at the number of people with a very poor reading age who end up
in prison, something like 60% or 70% of our prison population
have a reading age of less than 10. That is something that we
can have an effect on, and I wondered what your comments were
about reading and the ability to teach reading to very young children.
Charlie Taylor: I feel strongly
about the teaching of a specific reading scheme, and I happen
to be very passionate about synthetic phonics. In some ways it
is nothing new, but it is about very focused teaching of readingit's
made a real focus. In both my schools, it's a way of targeting
the children, assessing where they are and moving them on in a
very, very structured way. The effects are dramatic and we get
some real change. I think a generation of children lost out because
of the fancy sort of stuff that I was taught at teacher training
collegereal books, or letting them look at the pictures
and make it up as they went along. Actually, reading is one of
those things that you have to teach.
Mike Griffiths: I wouldn't disagree
with any of that, but I think that we have to be careful about
cause and effect. Although significant numbers of people end up
having a problem who were also poor readers, they were probably
also deprived in lots of other ways as well. We have to be careful
not to make too simplistic a judgment that because you are not
a reader, you will not get on. In the 1950s, my father was deputy
head of a secondary modern school and he remembers the days when
people left school at 14 or 15 and went into the army or manual
labour. Vast numbers of them could not read or write functionally,
but that is not to say that they all ended up in prison. I do
not think that it is a necessary consequence, so I think that
we have to be careful. You also mentioned transition. Schools
work a lot harder than they used to on transition, but sometimes
it is the art of the possible. I was a head teacher in relatively
rural Oxfordshire where basically there were about five primary
schools that fed into the secondary school of which I was head.
There, liaison was fairly straightforward, and you could work
with that. My current school's 2010 intake came from 83 different
primary schools, which completely changes the dynamic of how much
transition work can go on between us and them. I am also aware
of all-through schools, which I think you're interested in, and
there is one in our town. It is a bit of a misnomer, though, because
although it is an all-through school in one sense, it is only
an all-through school for about 30 of the students. They are still
joined by about 180 other students at year 7, so it's not as though
the whole school is all-through. I do not know of many cases where
a school is actually all-through, with 90 youngsters or whatever
going right the way through from age four to age 18. I think in
most so-called all-through schools, actually there is still quite
a big addition of other youngsters from other places. That might
be worth looking atcomparing those youngsters who were
part of the all-through with the youngsters who joined. Again,
we have to be careful with the data because it is not always as
simple as it seems.
Q140 Tessa Munt: I did not want
to imply in any way that if you cannot read you go to prison.
What I am saying is that the learning experience of reading can
perhaps alter people's futures, and that seems to be a factor
Mike Griffiths: Clearly, it is
absolutely vital because if youngsters are not able to read well
and effectively, they simply cannot access other parts of the
curriculum. Of course, if they cannot access the curriculum and
if their achievement gets lower an almost inevitable consequence
is that they become relatively disaffected and relatively uninterested
in lessons, and behaviour becomes a problem.
Q141 Tessa Munt: So what we are
saying is that it is possible that instead of concentrating on
managing exclusions we could prevent more, perhaps.
Charlie Taylor indicated assent.
Q142 Tessa Munt: Charlie seems
to agree, so that would be what I would suggest. May I quickly
look at interventions and managing exclusions through restorative
justice, mediation, internal exclusion and managed moves? How
often are managed moves and internal exclusion used to prevent
Gillian Allcroft: That varies
enormously from school to school in terms of internal exclusion.
It can depend on the individual school's policy and how it is
Q143 Tessa Munt: Are managed moves
a good thing?
Gillian Allcroft: They can be.
It is a balancing act. They can be a good thing, but on the other
hand they can be seen as a way of moving the problem elsewhere
without dealing with it. They can be a good thing, because sometimes
the pupil needs to be in a different environment, which might
help that pupil and move their education on.
Russell Hobby: I think that managed
moves are a good thing, because groups of heads and schools work
together to take responsibility for a problem, rather than saying,
"That child is not my problem any longer." If you are
participating in it, you are also accepting children from other
schools. I think that, in some areas, they are often hung up by
the bureaucratic difficulty of organising it and by whether the
local authority is sufficiently stimulating it and helping to
co-ordinate things. But as a principle, and as an alternative
to permanent exclusion and at the end point of an escalation of
processes that include things going on purely within the school,
it is a big step forward.
Mike Griffiths: Although I think
that, in principle, they and partnership working are a good idea,
I am afraid that, in my experience, the local authority has not
been involved at all. It is individual head teachers working together
to resolve the problem. I have to say that, in my experience,
managed moves are rarely successful. The danger is that they can
be used to disguise or mask the problem. It is almost delaying
the inevitable sometimes. There may be occasions when it is appropriate
and it will work and has a good chance of working, but not that
many cases have been successful in my relatively limited experience.
It depends what is the reason for doing it. If it is just that
something has gone wrong in relation to a particular school, it
can work. But if the youngster has a deeper, underlying problem,
simply shifting it elsewhere and having a trail of disruption
around local schools doesn't do that youngster any good, and it
certainly doesn't do the youngsters and the staff at the receiving
school much good either.
Charlie Taylor: I think that internal
exclusion can work well when it is well managed, but when it becomes
a sort of school sin bin it can be disastrous. I observed a school
where pupils said to each other, "What have you got for second
lesson? I'll see you in the sin bin at quarter past, then, because
that's boring and we'll have a bit of fun there." But in
well managed, well organised schools it works very well and it
is very successful. To briefly go back to the point about transition,
I have a very big concern about what happens to exclusion rates
between 11-year-olds and 12-year-oldsin other words, between
year 6 and year 7when they dump them between the two. Do
children get twice as bad between the last year of primary and
the first year of secondary? No, they don't. We have a problem
around that. When we get to 12-year-olds, I think that the exclusion
rates are about four or five times higher. I say to my secondary
school colleagues that I think, as a primary head, that there
are times when secondary schools could learn from the way in which
primary schools run things. For example, there's a fantastic school
in my local authority called Rosedale College, which has a high-level
teaching assistant who goes around all the separate classes with
an individual class group for year 7 and year 8. That means that
when the pupils come into the room, the teaching assistant knows
all those pupils and can tell the teacher, "So and so is
having a bit of a twitch today. If he starts acting up, I'll take
him out. Leave it to me." That differs from the very difficult
situation that secondary school teachers are put in where they
have 30 children and barely know who they are, and they have to
deliver the curriculum. If someone starts acting up, it immediately
becomes a problem and it snowballs. A little bit of primary seeping
into secondary would not do any harm, particularly in schools
that have very challenging behaviour.
Q144 Chair: The number of permanent
and short-term exclusions has been decreasing. Mike, in your evidence
to the Committee, you sat on the fence and said that "hopefully"
this is because things are getting better rather than because
of pressure from the Government and so on. What is the truth here?
It is going down. Is that a good thing or does it, in fact, mean
that head teachers are just intimidated into not doing it? We
have had evidence from teaching unions that heads do not get to
understand and feel the true picture that is going on down below
and are just rather keen to keep the numbers down and keep their
noses clean with the local authority. It is hard to tell from
your evidence what you think is really happening.
Mike Griffiths: That's not a situation
that I would recognise at all. In my experience, head teachers
know only too well exactly what's happening in their schools.
Q145 Chair: So Patrick RoachI
think it wasof the NASUWT was wrong to suggest that there
was a disconnect between leadership and the front line?
Mike Griffiths: Yes.
Russell Hobby: Just to add to
that: the majority of head teachers are also teachers, so they're
on the front line as well as leading the school. So I would reinforce
Chair: We move on to exclusions and partnerships.
Q146 Pat Glass: I want to ask
a few questions around early intervention and alternative provision,
but before I do, Charlie, can you give me the name of that school
Charlie Taylor: Rosedale College
Q147 Pat Glass: Thank you. Looking
at early intervention in both senses, around nurture provisionit
was good to hear you talk about thatand intervening before
the problem escalates, how important is that in what we have heard
in your evidence about a reduction in behaviour problems in schools?
Russell Hobby: It's vital. We
weight our system too much towards the end of the education process,
when it's too late to alter the things that have been embedded
beforehand. From universities on down through the system, we need
to be paying as much attention to nursery and pre-school activity.
As Charlie said, there are some quite strong predictors. There
are various studies in the US as well, which connect lifetime
income and happiness to the quality of pre-school provision. It
raises some interesting questions about the pupil premium as well,
which starts at five, as I understand it, rather than earlier.
It might be that we could help disadvantaged children more by
focusing resources even earlier in their school career.
Q148 Pat Glass: In my experience,
nurture provision is very patchy across the piece; in some authorities
most schools have nurture provision and in others they have very
little. What is the experience among your head teachers? If we
think that this is important, should Government be sending out
very strong signals around nurture provision?
Russell Hobby: They could send
out strong signals about what works and then leave it to schools
in the area to react to that evidence. I think that they have
an interest in doing that. Particularly when you connect Sure
Start and children's centres with the schools themselves and you
manage that journey from three onwards throughout the school career,
that is quite effective.
Mike Griffiths: Early referral
is important in changing behaviours rather than simply punishing
the bad behaviour at the end when it is much too late. I would
support what Charlie said in terms of a school like mine, where
there are learning support assistants and behavioural support
assistants who know the classes and the youngsters, and do follow
them or particular groups, so they get to know them and can provide
the continuity that perhaps a subject teacher wouldn't be aware
of, which helps. Even though we're classed as "outstanding"
with behaviour described in the past three Ofsted reports as "excellent,"
at my school we've appointed a behaviour support manager. The
idea of that is to identify as early as possiblein our
case in years 7 and 8for which youngsters behaviour is
an issue or may develop into one, so that we can target support,
teacher training and ways of dealing with those youngsters at
as early a date as possible, rather than doing the old finger-in-the-dike
thing for two or three years before they become fully grown adolescents
and become a major problem. We want to tackle the issue at an
earlier stage. More and more schools are trying to do that. Secondary
schools are trying to tackle the issue when it first arises, rather
than when it becomes a problem.
Q149 Pat Glass: There was an authority
that I worked with in a large city that had agreed with its secondary
head teachers that every time there was a permanent exclusion,
they would have a formal serious case review where other heads
would come in and look at, not the incident itself, but what led
up to it, and would come out with written recommendations for
governors, saying, "This is the thing that you need to put
in place to prevent this ever happening again." Do you think
that it would be helpful if we looked at it from a structural
point of view rather than the child and the incident?
Gillian Allcroft: As governors,
we have to put in place what we can to ensure that heads and teachers
can do their job properly, and look at intervention and look at
staffing complements and decide whether this is somewhere where
the budget might need to go. Clearly, we are all facing budget
constraints, so there will be issues. The other thing that has
obviously worked in authorities is parent support advisers, and
having those people in place to help is great. It has been shown
that that can help work with behaviour.
Q150 Pat Glass: Moving on to alternative
provision, we had Alan Steer here last week, and he said that
PRU provision in this country was little short of a national disgrace.
My experience is that it is either very good or very poor. Given
that we are facing economic restraint, do you think that there
is a place for local authorities to share their expertise and
pool resources around this? Do you want to start, Charlie?
Charlie Taylor: Yes, I do. I think
Alan Steer is right about the wide swings in the quality of alternative
provision for pupils. Some of it's excellent; some of it isn't.
At my school, there is a lot of intervention; we work with the
parents a lot. It is much easier to change the behaviour of a
three-year-old than it is when your child gets to 15. Parents
are a lot more up for changing the behaviour of a three-year-old
than they are for a 15-year-old. By the time they get to 15, the
die is cast and people are putting their hands up and saying,
"Let's hope they get to 18, so we can move them on."
So I think that there is a huge case for that. We need to put
as much resources as we can into looking after those pupils who
are getting chucked out of school. There is a real danger that
you get into what is called the child deficit model, which is
where all the problems get focused in on the children, and you
end up with situations where schools are thinking that if they
could just get rid of this one child, then everything would be
okay until the next one comes along. We should focus in on those
children and improve the quality of teaching in PRUswe
have talked about readingso that we have really focused
teaching of reading in PRUs and really focused work on their social
and emotional issues. In the PRU that I run, a lot of time is
spent on social issues. The children sit around the table every
day for 20 minutes and have tea and toast together. On one level
it seems trivial, but what they get out of sitting opposite each
otherit is all very twee, with a butter knife and a teapot
and that kind of thingand actually beginning to unravel
and being able to discuss the issues that are going on makes a
huge amount of difference to their behaviour. Most of the children
now spend only two terms in my school and then move back into
mainstream primary schools. During that process, because they
still spend a day a week in their mainstream schoolwe are
emphatic about that: they don't lose touch with that school and
they have to continue to wear that school's uniform and everything
elseit means that we can get the teachers from that school
in to the Willows, and we can train them and support them to reintegrate
that child back. So when the next one comes along, instead of
simply pushing them out, they will actually have more resources
and a bigger skill set to help them, support them and change them.
Q151 Pat Glass: Russell, coming
back to you, given that the panel have seen excellent provisionCharlie's
is one that we haven't seen, but that we recogniseand given
that there is almost a shortage of money and really good staff
around this area, is this an area in which local authorities should
be looking to pool their resources and their specialities, because
staff are crucial?
Russell Hobby: Staff are crucial,
and so is the quality of training. The difficulty would be, as
Charlie has outlined, the relationship with local schools. PRUs
are connected to a group of schools, which can make it harder
to pool resources at a large level, but that might be possible
at a smaller, community level, and certainly with resource constraints
that is an issue to look into. As well as the quality of what
is delivered, we need to look at what they are for and why children
are referred to these units. That is probably a bigger driver
of what is going on. If they are used as a long-term place to
put children that we find too difficult to work with, that is
exactly the wrong reason to be using them. They are short-term
interventions to help someone turn around and go back into mainstream
education. If we are sending children with special educational
needs there, as opposed to specialist alternative provision, then
this is just a big misuse of the PRU set-up. I wonder how some
of the issues around quality and impact might be related to using
them for the wrong things as opposed to what is being done in
Q152 Pat Glass: May I move on
very quickly to CAMHS? As a Committee we heard clearly from a
number of experts that CAMHS is very patchy across the country
and very limited. There is just not enough of it and there are
not enough of the really good ones. Because tier 1 services consequently
largely fall upon school staff, and given that we are identifying
significantly more children with SEN than our European neighbours
are, are our staff in schools trained enough to be able to identify
the difference between those children who have conduct disorders,
those who have SEN and those who are simply under-achieving as
a result of many other factors?
Russell Hobby: I think the role
of special educational needs, both delivery of the appropriate
teaching and identification of those needs, should be looked at
in initial teacher training. While classroom management is probably
an argument for putting more teacher training into schools, because
it is a practical discipline, there is a theoretical basis to
some of this work as well and it supports some of the higher education
influence in initial teacher training as well. But this takes
place also within a wider circumstance that as a society we are
more inclined to ascribe categories to behaviour rather than to
treat people as individuals. There is a kind of medicalisation
of how we talk about children. That is driven by parents wanting
to ensure that their children's needs are recognised and that
they get the resources and support, and schools are doing exactly
the same thing as well. So there is a bigger picture about how
we describe needs within schools and whether we need to go as
far as categorising people with medical issues, if that makes
Q153 Pat Glass: Initial teacher
training gets blamed for everything. It is three or six months
for a PGCE. It is a very short course and there is a lot to learn.
Teachers are in school a long time. How important do head teachers
feel it is that there should be continuous training around SEN?
Russell Hobby: Yes. Every teacher
needs to know. It is not just a specialist role.
Q154 Pat Glass:
But head teachers are not spending their money there, are they?
And they need to, don't they?
Russell Hobby: But there are any
number of things that we could be spending money on training people
in. That is the difficult side of it. There is the role of the
co-ordinator and their position on the leadership team within
the school as well. So there is a balance. In different schools
it will vary because for some schools there won't be a high incidence
of pupils with special educational needs and that won't be the
right way to spend their training budget.
Q155 Chair: May I ask you specifically
about CAMHS? Alan Steer referred to new cases where a child had
to wait 18 months before being seen and nine months is routine.
Do you have examples where there is a really good CAMHS and where
it makes a difference?
Mike Griffiths: I think the time
lag is the problem a lot of the time with CAMHS. There are often
some very good people but it tends to be a problem of time for
getting a referral, which is one of the reasons why, as I say,
we have appointed somebody, almost our own person, who has expertise
in that area. There is also that notion of special needs: although
all teachers need to be aware of issues about how to work with
youngsters with needs in their subject areas, I don't think that
every teacher needs to be trained in order to recognise the thing
in the first place. They need to be aware that a youngster has
the condition and be told the best way to deal with that. You
refer to training, but we do that on whole-school training days.
There is always at least one of those days at my school where
there is an emphasis on special needs.
Q156 Pat Glass:
So is the average teacher in the classroom well trained enough?
Given that, for instance, on average, we are told, there are two
autistic children being taught in every class who can exhibit
all kinds of difficult behaviours, is every average teacher well
trained enough to deal with that?
Mike Griffiths: "Every average
teacher"? All teachers could be trained more in everything.
Clearly, it is an area, but it's the art of the possible. We do
what we can and we do what we do. I suspect that most schools
have a clear focus on youngsters' special needs, but of course
there are special needs. I would not want it to be equated. This
hearing is on behaviour and discipline and obviously the two are
Pat Glass: But the two things are almost
Mike Griffiths: That's right.
I wouldn't like there to be a belief that there was an intrinsic
link between the two. The two clearly are very different issues.
Q157 Pat Glass: In a sense, what
I am trying to explore is this: many of the behaviours that we
see in school will be linked with SEN. Are teachers well enough
trained and aware to be able to identify the difference? I suspect
that Charlie has lots of children who have come through his system
who have come through as conduct disordered and who actually have
Charlie Taylor: Very often what
we find is that they have an undiagnosed condition. For example,
we had a pupil the other day who was very naughty, but it turned
out that she was in the first percentile for speaking and listening.
Even though socially she appeared to be quite good at communicating,
if you listened to what she said it was very poor and she had
slipped through the net. As soon as we were able to recognise
that and support the school to recognise that, her behaviour improved
Q158 Chair: On CAMHS, the mental
health services for young peoplechildren not with SEN but
with a particular mental health needthe evidence we have
seems to be that that does not get met across the board. Is that
as scandalous as it looks? If that wasn't soin other words,
if this Committee or these parliamentarians were to push the new
Government to do what the previous Government obviously did not
do, would it make a huge difference to children with mental health
problems if they got early intervention?
Mike Griffiths: I think it would,
because we have been talking for the last 15 minutes about the
importance of early intervention, and you are not going to get
early intervention if you are having to wait for 18 months to
even get the assessment. It is an important issue.
Charlie Taylor: In my school,
we had a clinical psychologist who was working there two days
a week, paid for by a project from CAMHS. She ran a parents group
which was incredibly successful in terms of moving stuck parents,
really moving their behaviour on. Unfortunately, the funding for
that ran out and now all our mental health support is paid for
either by us or by charities who we get to help fund it. But in
terms of what we get from CAMHS it's now become very limited.
Q159 Chair: Would you rather see
the money come direct to the school so that you can commission
and work under your own control, or would you rather rely on the
NHS with an additional central prod into it and hope that it can
Charlie Taylor: We are supposed
to be able to commission through CAMHS, but I thought education
recruitment was complicated until you get into health recruitment
and everything that goes with it. The bureaucracy and everything
else around it is such a complete nightmare that in the end you
think it is better if we use the money on what we want. You have
to pay them a hugeI don't know how to put itpimping
fee, I suppose, to get any services into your schools. You end
up paying a tip to the NHS for bringing a worker into your school,
so in the end we thought we would go direct to the workers and
recruit our own people.
Mike Griffiths: I would agree
that the best way that we have found to get things to happen is
to put the money into the school and the school then buys from
wherever it can obtain the service.
Q160 Chair: Because there is this
general tension between a sense of central direction and prescription
which should guarantee, in a way, the service delivery and if
you go to greater autonomy you might be undermining that.
Charlie Taylor: If the money is
not ring-fenced, then it may get spent on something elsethat
is the difficulty. If you ring-fence the money you can provide
the service, but then you get all these little pockets of money
that head teachers are trying to juggle around with, so it is
Mike Griffiths: I think it is
a mistake that politicians make to think that prescription guarantees
that something will happen. I don't think it does.
Q161 Pat Glass: May I ask one
more question? My feeling and experience around this is that there
is too little provision, it is too variable and it is in the wrong
place. There is a structural issueCAMHS sitting in clinics
and not in schools and not in homes.
Charlie Taylor: They need to be
in schools, because schools have a really good record of getting
parents into schools and working with parents and supporting them.
It is very difficult for some of the parents in my school to go
to a clinical setting and turn up on time for appointment after
appointment. The danger is that you get to a situation where they
miss two appointments and are kind of rubbed off and it is said
that they weren't ready for therapy, rather than being chased
up and told, "Look, we can help you here, but you're going
to have to meet us halfway." There's a huge amount to be
done on going around to houses and getting parents into schools.
Mike Griffiths: My school has
four times the national average of pupils with autismwe
have over 40 youngsters on the autistic spectrum with statements
for autism. I would like to support the notion that parents are
absolutely key in behavioural things in secondary school as well
as primary school. We always look at it as a triangle of parent,
child and schoolyou need all three corners to be working
effectively and we try to work very closely with parents on the
behaviour of youngsters. Charlie is rightit is absolutely
key at primary, but also at secondary, that you get parents on
board. Most parents start to despair of their adolescent child
at some pointI know I didbut it is important to
get the message through to some parents, "Your 15-year-old
adolescent is a pain, but we teachers have seen that many times
and, trust us, they grow up to be okay."
Q162 Chair: Will the fact that
there will no longer be a requirement to be a member of a behaviour
and attendance partnership have any impact?
Russell Hobby: Even if you require
people to participate in partnerships, they can be there in spirit
but not in body and vice versa, so required partnership working
tends to produce no better effects than voluntary ground partnership
Mike Griffiths: I agree 100%.
Gillian Allcroft: I agree.
Charlie Taylor: I agree, too.
Q163 Ian Mearns: We have strayed
into parents, which is the area that I wanted to come in on. As
a school governor and an elected member of the council dealing
with education for a number of years, I have often come across
parents who are difficult to categorise. I very rarely come across
a parent who literally doesn't care about their child. They quite
often lack understanding about how to modify or moderate a child's
behaviour, but I very rarely come across parents who don't care.
Having said that, even when parents might care, they are quite
often still the heads of unstructured and chaotic households.
For some youngsters, sadly, the most negative influence on their
lives will be their own parents. That is a sad fact of life. Having
said that, when we come across youngsters from chaotic homes,
it is very difficult to intervene. We have received written evidence
from an educational psychologist, Dr Sue Roffey, who says that
"parents often feel blamed, helpless and marginalised in
their interactions with schools over issues of school behaviour",
and that "parents are often at a loss themselves to manage
behaviour well". However, where things are going badly awry,
the evidence that we have received states: "By August 2008,
no parenting order for behaviour had yet been issued, and Committee
staff are not aware that the position has changed since."
So these powers are available to local authorities working in
partnership with schools, but they don't seem to be being used
when parents are presented with youngsters whose behaviour at
school is chaotic. How can we better develop understanding between
schools and parents on issues of behaviour? Should different approaches
be employed in the different sectors between primary and secondary,
or even special schools?
Gillian Allcroft: There clearly
is a difference between primary and secondary. As a primary school,
you are far more likely to see your parents at the school gate
and you are far more likely to know them as individuals on a regular
basis. It is therefore easy to build up a relationship and have
those quiet words and conversations that are more difficult to
have at secondary. I think that all schools, in terms of behaviour,
accept that you can't deal with poor behaviour unless you involve
the parents. They have a variety of strategies to deal with them,
but what works in one school with one set of parents will not
necessarily work in another school. You have to look at the individual
context of the school. Going back to what I said in that earlier
question, where people have had parental support advisers, they
have proved a very valuable role, particularly for those parents
who have had a negative school experience and who don't want to
come in and talk to the teachers, however much the teachers would
like them to. Having that person, who is not actually a teacher,
can be really useful.
Mike Griffiths: I am not surprised
that there aren't that many parenting orders, because in one sense
it is an admission that everything has gone wrong. My view is
that if you end up with a parenting order, you have lost anyway.
As a school, you can only work co-operatively with the parents.
If the youngster comes from a dysfunctional family, you need to
find whatever help, support and advice you can give, because it
is a co-operative venture to get that youngster into secondary
Q164 Chair: Do you think that
home-school agreements are a good thing?
Mike Griffiths: I don't think
they are worth the paper they are written on, to be honest. I
don't think that anybody has ever used them productively.
Charlie Taylor: I think they can
be used constructively as a starting point for putting down some
benchmarks. The way that they are used is then broadened, and
it is a way of engaging parents and discussing what your expectations
are, particularly when you first meet them when they first come
to the school. I do think that the more schools can do to meet
those more challenging parents and to make them feel that the
school is on their side, the better. Because let's face it: these
are often parents whose own education has been incredibly disrupted.
They get a horrible feeling as they walk through the door into
school; they feel terrified. When they get to the head teacher's
door, it brings back that terrible feelingI still get it
in my own school, and I'm the head teacherwhere the years
fall back. I used to knock on my door for the first three months
when I got there, because I'd forgotten that I was the head teacher.
Parents still have all those feelings, so they walk in already
bristling and ready for a fight. The more schools can do to bring
parents in and make them feel more engaged and more a part of
the fabric of the school, the better. Many schools do that brilliantly,
and those schools that do don't tend to have constant issues with
parentscomplaints and arguments. They are working together
and understanding that the school is on their side.
Russell Hobby: I think home-school
agreements can work as well, but only if they are a living policy
and document, not just a piece of paper that is like a mission
statement. There are more constructive alternatives. If, as a
school, you are trying to apply a consistent policywhich
is, after all, what children really needthe fact is that
that consistency ends at the school gates and they can then go
out into a very inconsistent world where their behaviour is treated
in different ways. The home-school agreement is a way of trying
to spread that consistency further and trying to invite and engage
parents into having a consistent approach to managing behaviour,
Mike Griffiths: The most effective
schools are the ones that try and build on that relationship by
having a good relationship between the parents and somebody at
the school, whether that is the form tutor, a mentor or whoever.
We try hard with some youngsters, who have been a problem, to
report back on a weekly basis. We try to report positive things,
because sometimes, as has been mentioned, the parents themselves
have had negative experiences of school, and they only see it
as an almost punitive environment. Getting positive messages back
to the parents can be very useful in terms of improving that youngster's
Q165 Damian Hinds: I want to talk
about leadership and managing behaviour overall. We have talked
already about the role of heads. We are short on time I know,
but, Gillian, what is the role of governors in this? Can governors
really be sufficiently in touch with classroom reality?
Gillian Allcroft: Yes, I think
they can, provided that they know their school. The best governing
bodies will absolutely know what is going on in their school.
The chair will have a good relationship with the head. Governors
will go into school on properly focused visits to find out what
is going on. The role of the governors is to set a statement of
behaviour principles, and it is then the head's responsibility
to set the behaviour policy, which sets out rules, rewards and
sanctions. Those principles are set in conjunction with the head,
because the head is usually a governor anyway. The governors set
the ethos and the principles, and that should be done in a context
of "Where is our school? What is our school like? And what
should be the right principles for our school?"
Q166 Damian Hinds: Can you give
me an example of such a principle, which would not be a universal
principle, but would be different school by school?
It is possible that some schools operate a no-exclusion policy,
so it is possible that one of the principles that governors could
lay down is that in their school they would like to adopt a no-exclusion
Q167 Damian Hinds: That doesn't
sound like a behaviour principle; that sounds like a what-you-do-about-behaviour
Gillian Allcroft: It depends how
you look at it, doesn't it? It is saying, "We will promote
good behaviour and one of the things that we will try and ensure
is that no child from our school is excluded." That would
definitely be something that most schools will not have. Clearly
that would have to be done in conjunction with the head.
Q168 Damian Hinds: Can I press
you on the point about behaviour principles? I understand the
point about having principles, but you said that governors would
set them. What sorts of principles will they be setting that would
not be universal, in terms of behaviour standards, to all schools?
Gillian Allcroft: To be honest,
if they would not be universal it is because the principles tend
to be around respect and not allowing bullying behaviour and that
sort of thing. You would expect that most of the principles, although
they will not be exactly the same, would generally speaking work
across most schools.
Q169 Damian Hinds: Thank you.
What do you look for from your boards of governors in terms of
leadership in this area?
Russell Hobby: In terms of variation
of principles and how that relates to governors, it is probably
more about what you do or do not need to make explicit in a policy.
You can take less for granted in some environments, so you may
have increasing detail in the behaviour policy or you may need
to be reinforcing behaviour. I have been around some of the charter
schools in New York, for example, where pupils have to look the
teacher in the eye when they are talking to them. In other schools
you do not need to make those sorts of comments, so it is more
about stepping in at that level. There probably is some variation,
for example, in the level of talkback that you would allow and
recommend in different types of schools depending on the culture
and the philosophy that existed. There is that air of getting
together and deciding how we need to make it work, but nine tenths
of it will be in the implementation of the policy and the way
the governors support the head teacher in both challenging them
to make sure they are consistent and backing them up when they
have made the right choices.
Q170 Damian Hinds: Do you think
governors are well placed to establish those? I understand what
you are saying about the degree of specificity on different rules.
Are governors best placed to make those judgments?
Russell Hobby: In a large number
of cases they will accept the advice of the head teacher, and
they will be backing up and reinforcing that. They are also part
of the community that the school has served, and they should be
in a position to express how that feels from the point of view
of the parents and other members of the community and whether
it is set in the right way.
Mike Griffiths: On your question
about governance, one of the things I am looking for is intelligent
targets. During my first headship, in Oxfordshire, the chair of
the governors wanted to set me a target of reducing exclusions.
Fortunately, I had a very wise vice-chair of governors who said,
"Well, Chair, what we actually want is for the standard of
behaviour in the school to improve. It may be that in order to
achieve that, Mike has to increase the number of exclusions over
a short period." I think that shows the importance of not
being driven by a set of targets, which might look as though they
will do one thing. What was actually important in that school
was that the standards of behaviour improved, not that exclusions
went down, up, or stayed the same. In terms of leadership, where
governors and heads need to work together is on creating the ethos
in a schoolwhat the school means and what it stands by.
Certainly in my school, one of the key things is that word "respect".
We say that respect should be given to all, by all, whether that
is students to students, students to teachers or teachers to students
and indeed to other staff. It is just as important that it goes
both ways. The key thing with all these policies is that you have
to live them. You can have whatever you like in a drawer, as a
mission statement and as a policy, but you have to be able to
walk into a school and get an immediate feelingyou should
be able to tell straight away what the school is like. That is
something I would like to see a lot more of in terms of Ofsted,
which we have not mentioned. Ofsted should be using professional
judgment on some of these things, rather than tick lists and checklists
and numbers and so on. I want people who are well trained, can
recognise things and have the professional judgment to say, "This
is a good school. This is a school where behaviour is excellent,"
rather than their having a whole series of things that they've
counted up and which mean, therefore, that the school is excellent.
Q171 Damian Hinds: I want to skip
to one last question, which is about language. I am only 40, but
I sometimes feel that it's been 120 years since I was at school.
In these sessions, and we've already had a number on behaviour
and discipline, we hear a lot of talk about appropriate behaviour
and inappropriate behaviour, acceptable and unacceptable behaviour,
disruptive behaviour, but not bad behaviour. I wonder what your
views are on that. Is there too much policy, too much relativism
and too much categorising of different behaviours, and not enough
talk about what is right and what is wrong?
Russell Hobby: It sometimes helps,
though, when you don't say that a child is bad or good, but that
their behaviour is bad or good. That's some of what we're trying
to do, because if you keep telling someone that they're bad
Q172 Damian Hinds: No, not even
to describe behaviour. I think that I'm right in saying that in
these sessions we haven't heard the words bad and good or right
and wrong being used, even in relation to behaviour. It has always
been appropriate and inappropriate, or acceptable and unacceptable.
I'm not saying that you've said that, but that's what's been said
Russell Hobby: I think maybe that's
us trying to separate behaviour from the individual, so that people
feel that the behaviour can change. There is also a fair amount
of political correctness in the way that we describe things, so
Mike Griffiths: I agree with the
thrust of your argument. Children need to know what is right and
what is wrong. It is as simple as that. We try to ensure that
children do recognise that some behaviour is simply inappropriate[Laughter]or
wrong in a civilised society. We've always had such arguments,
whether it is the mods and rockers on Brighton beach, or the punk
rockers, things have always been happening with adolescent youngsters.
We stick with the respect notionif your behaviour is showing
disrespect to somebody, that is wrong. In fact, that is one of
the things that the chair of governors at my school says when
she stands up at the prospective parents' evening. "Children
need to know the difference between what's right and what's wrong."
Q173 Nic Dakin: There's a leaked
report suggesting that the Government are going to cut ITT in
higher education by 85% and transfer those responsibilities to
schools. Earlier today you talked about how schools are the best
place to train management of behaviour issues and other things,
but are schools ready for that responsibility? Do they have the
capacity, and do you think that that's a positive direction for
Mike Griffiths: I believe so.
I also worked earlier in my career in initial teacher training
at a higher education establishmentSheffield City Polytechnic,
as it then was. I think that schools are the best places. The
only problem is that a huge level of bureaucracya level
that most schools can only dream ofaffects initial teacher
training. That is something that needs to be addressed, but, if
that can be resolved, schools are very good places for initial
teacher training. I am not saying that they should be the only
place, but I think that they do provide an excellent route for
many people to go into teaching.
Charlie Taylor: We use the graduate
teacher programme a lot, whereby we've got teaching assistants
to transform into teachers further down the road. I would say
that, most of the time, schools can do that work. If they do need
support, schools such as mine offer support in training on behaviour
to other schools in the authority.
Q174 Ian Mearns: If a school hasn't
got its behaviour programmes right, is it the right place to teach
new teachers? Isn't that a problem?
Charlie Taylor: The difficulty
is that, if a school hasn't got its programme right, it doesn't
matter how well trained the teacher coming in is. If the overarching
behaviour isn't being managed properly, one teacher at the bottom
of the tree doesn't have a hope.
Mike Griffiths: I was also going
to make a point about school-centred initial teacher training.
In my school, for instance, we have about 18 trainees a year,
but they don't all work in my school. We organise the teaching,
the training and this, that and the other, but some of them work
in our partner schools. Some of them will have their two teaching
practices in other schools and not have either of them in my school.
It's more about whether a school can effectively organise the
training, rather than the provision. Such training can also help
to address particular geographical needs, because, certainly where
I am, there is no HE institution that offers degrees and PGCEs
for future secondary school teachers. Our SCITT is useful to more
mature entrants to the profession, because they don't have to
travel long distances for PGCE provision at a university.
Russell Hobby: Just to redress
the balance towards the academic end of things, there are some
topics around behaviour that are best addressed in an academic
or higher education environment, particularly when you are phasing
into some of the more complex needshealth, mental health
and special educational needs. Getting a whole view of child development
and how children grow and learn may not be the right thing to
take place within a school environment. Nor, to go back to another
point, would every school welcome the requirement to train teachers.
What we are probably talking about is a balance of a school-led
provision with suitable academic input.
Q175 Craig Whittaker: But haven't
we already established that the training around things like CAMHS,
for example, is minimal anyway?
Russell Hobby: Yes. I'm not necessarily
saying it's happening right at the moment, but it strikes me that
there are some topics that you don't learn on the job. You learn
them off the job, and they include some of these mental health
issues. Whether they could be improved and done differently is
Chair: Whether we could inject the academic
into the school environment rather than regarding them as entirely
separate, perhaps. Thank you all very much for your evidence.
It was very helpful, and thank you for coming in.