3 Enabling and cultivating good behaviour |
The impact of teaching quality
32. Sir Alan Steer's 2009 report concluded that "consistent
good quality teaching is the most significant factor in raising
standards and reducing low level disruption. Learning, teaching
and behaviour are inseparable issues for schools".
The vast majority of witnesses to our inquiry agreed with this.
However, as Mr Tom Burkard pointed out, the importance of good
teaching in securing good behaviour is sometimes underestimated:
The endemic problem that we have had for far too
long is that we are looking at the child and what is wrong with
the child, not looking at what is wrong with the learning environment.
[...] anyone who ran a business by trying to decide what was wrong
with their customers rather than what was wrong with their services
would soon be out of business.
Indeed, this point was made most starkly in Ofsted's
recent Review of Special Educational Needs and Disability which
concluded that "as many as half of all pupils identified
for School Action
would not be identified as having special educational needs if
schools focused on improving teaching and learning for all, with
individual goals for improvement".
33. The link between teaching quality and pupil behaviour
is most evident in the skill with which the teacher uses the curriculum
to hold children's attention in the first place. A child who is
absorbed in learning is less likely to become disengagedand
to misbehave in consequence. As one educational psychologist responding
to our call for evidence, Dr Sue Roffey, concluded, "didactic
or otherwise dull pedagogies do not engage students. Disengaged
students muck about".
It is understandable, therefore, that teachers should
be able to depend on a curriculum which is engaging in its own
right. As the National Union of Teachers explained,
Curriculum organisation can [
] have a significant
impact on pupil behaviour. The NUT believes that head teachers
and senior colleagues should work collaboratively and in consultation
with teachers in order to design coherent curriculum models which
can meet the needs of all children. Such models should be based
on teachers' professional judgement and knowledge of their pupils.
34. Barnardo's pointed to the need for alternative
curricula for those pupils for whom the mainstream curriculum
may not be effective:
The academic focus of school and traditional classroom
methods alienate many young people. Our experience is that they
often learn better from a youth work approach or in practical,
vocational settings. Alternative and applied vocational pathways,
involving work-based learning should be available as a positive
14-19 option for those young people whose potential is not unlocked
by mainstream education.
National Strategies have played a role in trying
to guide teachers in use of the curriculum and positive approaches
to teaching and learning, in order to support good behaviourfor
example, through promotion of more personalised approaches to
the direction of travel, evident in the Schools White Paper, is
very much towards less prescription in how the curriculum should
National Strategies have had beneficial effects; but a new, less
prescriptive approach may succeed in giving a new stimulus to
teachers in preparing and applying the curriculum in ways which
engage children more and which reduce the risk of poor behaviour.
Ministers should bear in mind, when developing proposals for the
new National Curriculum, that if the future curriculum is to have
a beneficial effect on standards of behaviour in the classroom,
it will need to meet the needs of all pupils and contain a mix
of academic and vocational subjects, while being differentiated
and enjoyable. We heard in evidence that pupils who are positively
engaged in learning are less likely to have behaviour problems.
Therefore we encourage the Government to revisit the issue of
vocational and practical learning to ensure a balanced approach.
We view this as a matter of considerable importance and plan to
address it in future inquiries.
The importance of basic skills
in reading, numbers, communication and comprehension
36. Our witnesses agreed without exception that a
failure to grasp basic skills in reading, comprehension, oracy
and numeracy makes a pupil more likely to be disruptive. Literacy
is perhaps the most important of these: as former HMI David Moore
explained, "if you cannot read, you cannot access the curriculum.
If your vocabulary is not sufficiently developed, you cannot understand
what the teachers are saying".
Tom Burkard added that it is "not only the reading
failure per se, but the child's frustration at the continual
and repeated failure to achieve their aims".
Both New Woodlands School and Beaumont Leys School placed a huge
emphasis on improving literacy and numeracy, as many pupils with
behavioural problems struggled with these basic skills. Mr Burkard
pointed to a study in 1974 by the United States Department of
Education which concluded that "reading failure was the only
one of all the various indicators which accurately predicted the
later incidence of violent antisocial behaviour".
37. The impact of reading failure is most noticeable
at the transition from primary to secondary school. During our
visit to Beaumont Leys School in Leicester, for example, teachers
commented on the high occurrence of reading failure amongst pupils
entering Year 7. Dr Mary Bousted, General Secretary of the Association
of Teachers and Lecturers, said that "there is no doubt
that the biggest regression in year 6 to year 7 is children who
go from primary, where the uses of literacy may be more limited,
into a subject-based curriculum at secondary maybe taking eight,
nine or ten subjects. The thing that bars them in those subjects
is not a lack of interest or of willingness to do well, but the
fact that the uses of literacy in those subjects are too hard
for them, because they have not developed sufficient reading skills".
Where pupils moving
on from primary or first school are still experiencing difficulty,
adequate and appropriate support must be provided. Indeed, throughout
the school years, schools need to be obsessed with ensuring that
children have the reading, communication and comprehension skills
they need to get the most out of their education, and providing
additional support as needed.
38. While we
were completing this inquiry, Graham Allen MP published interim
findings from his review of early intervention, commissioned by
the Government. Mr Allen identified a number of other interventions
which can assist in children's early development.
We note also the work
done in this area by the Rt Hon Frank Field MP, in his report
on child poverty.
39. The recent Schools White Paper commits to promoting
the teaching of systematic synthetic phonics in schools and to
a new reading assessment (specifically a phonics check) for six
year olds. The Government believes that these measures will ensure
that all children "have the chance to follow an enriching
curriculum by getting them reading early" and "guarantee
that children have mastered the basic skills of early reading
] ensure we can identify those with learning difficulties".
Several witnesses agreed that use of the synthetic phonics
approach was an important ingredient in preventing reading failure.
We did not assess the merits of using synthetic phonics
to improve literacy; nor did we take evidence specifically on
the proposed age 6 reading assessment. However, it is widely acknowledged
(for example, by the Rose review of the teaching of reading)
that development in both word recognition and comprehension is
essential for success as a fluent reader, which can in turn promote
good behaviour. Therefore,
we encourage the Government to promote language comprehension
as well as word recognition and phonics skills throughout the
infant curriculum. Appropriate support and interventions should
be made available to pupils who do not do well in the six year
old assessment. Clear accountability frameworks which require
head teachers and senior school leaders to demonstrate how schools
respond to any problems picked up in the six year old assessment
should be put in place.
40. For one group of pupils, the results of the age
6 reading assessment will not necessarily help to identify their
additional learning needs. The children's communication charity
I CAN told us that, in some disadvantaged areas, "upwards
of 50% of children are starting school with Speech, Language and
Communication Needs (SLCN). Many have poor language skills which
are inadequate for the start of formal learning".
The evidence points to a "strong correlation between children
who have emotional and behavioural difficulties and children who
Those with unaddressed speech, language and communication
needs are at risk of problems with literacy, numeracy and learning.
They are less likely to leave school with qualifications or job
prospects and are in danger of becoming NEET (not in employment,
education or training at 16-18) [
] We also know that children
excluded from school are likely to have special educational needs,
including a high incidence of communication difficulties. People
with speech and language needs are significantly over-represented
in the young offender and prison populations. In addition to this,
limited language skills make it difficult for young people to
access support or understand interventions.
41. The Schools White Paper does not allude specifically
to pupils with Speech, Language and Communication Needs who may
(among other conditions) have difficulty producing speech sounds
or have receptive language impairment. They may do poorly in reading
tests, including phonics checks, but such assessments will not
on their own identify communication impairments which can underpin
behavioural difficulties. We expect that the needs of pupils with
SLCN will be addressed directly in the forthcoming Green Paper
on Special Educational Needs (expected in February 2011). We
acknowledge the new reading assessment for 6 year olds, and we
understand the concerns of witnesses representing children with
speech, communication and language needs that these pupils' needs
may not be identified by this assessment. We recommend therefore
that the Government broadens the six year old assessment to include
an assessment of speaking and listening ability.
"What works": sharing
42. A robust and well-led school behaviour policy,
consistently applied and underpinned by good teaching and an appropriate
curriculum is critical to supporting good behaviour in schools.
However, on a day-to-day basis in the classroom, there are simple
techniques that can be applied to manage behaviour. In common
with many witnesses, Sir Alan Steer advised "we know what
works. We just don't do it".
This view was supported by behaviour consultant Sue Cowley who
told us that "I meet newly qualified teachers all the time.
I work with them, and they say to me, 'Why didn't anybody tell
us that there are these really simple, straightforward things
] Why has nobody told us practical ways of actually managing
43. Sir Alan Steer's 2005 report highlighted some
practical approaches to developing a consistent approach towards
These approaches were described in the "What Works"
section of the 2005 report, Learning Behaviour, which was
published separately for use in schools. Sir Alan's subsequent
report, Learning Behaviour: Lessons Learned, published
in 2009, recommended that the "What Works" principles
be used as a basis to organise training for staff in schools.
Witnesses, including the Minister for Schools himself, agreed
with the general principles.
The London Borough of Tower Hamlets noted that the recommendations
of the 2009 Steer report had been "generally welcomed as
well thought through and based on real school experience",
and it believed that they should be implemented.
44. The former Government recognised the need to
disseminate best practice on managing behaviour. The Behaviour,
Attendance and SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning)
strand of the National Strategies programme was put in place to
provide practical materials to support schools in improving behaviour,
building their capacity to make them less reliant on external
support. The former Government announced its intention not to
renew the National Strategies contract in 2011, and proposed instead
to devolve the funding for the Primary and Secondary National
Strategies to schools.
This decision was welcomed by the current
Secretary of State. Our witnesses presented mixed views on the
usefulness of National Strategies, although SEAL materials were
considered to be helpful, and it seems that the material will
continue to be used in schools once the National Strategies contract
has ended. However, a gap remains in terms of disseminating best
practice on simple tools and techniques. As Mary Bousted, General
Secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, asserted:
there are techniques you can learn which will help
you, with a good curriculum, to deal with low-level disruption.
One question I thought would be asked was, have [National] Strategies
helped in this? I don't think they have. [
] There are certain
techniques that, if applied well, can be used to keep very good
order in the classroom, such as: if you have a disruptive class
or a class that will be difficult, making sure that when you start
the lesson there is something for them to do when they walk through
the door of the classroom; making sure that the curriculum is
properly differentiated and ensuring that they do not shout out
over each other.
45. Sir Alan Steer pointed to the fact that basic
techniques are less likely to be applied in secondary schools,
telling us that "in the secondary sector we do not put enough
importance on basic issues of classroom management. When you visit
a primary school and ask a teacher, 'Are the children allowed
to sit where they like in the classroom?', they look at you as
though you're being slightly rude, because of course they're not.
Any primary teacher manages their classroom. In large numbers
of secondary schools, that is dropped at the age of 11, and it's
dropped without thinking".
approaches to managing behaviour, such as those outlined in Sir
Alan Steer's "What Works in Schools", should be incorporated
in all initial teacher training and continuing professional development
on behaviour, especially for secondary schools where basic issues
of classroom management are sometimes overlooked.
46. National Strategies are now coming to an end,
with an expectation that local authorities and twenty 'lead behaviour
been trained to work with schools by National Strategies consultantswill
take on the role of sharing best practice amongst themselves.
This will rely on schools working in effective partnerships.
This new focus on self-reliance amongst schools for training and
development on behaviour was generally welcomed by our witnesses.
However, in discussion with behaviour teams and their partners
at Leicestershire County Council, it was suggested to us that
the ending of the central coordination provided by National Strategies
could be a concern for those schools which are currently graded
'satisfactory' in terms of behaviour and discipline.
It was expected that the local authority would need to take on
a much greater role in challenging and supporting schools to ensure
improvement in this respect. The Schools White Paper identifies
a strategic role for local authorities in championing excellence
in schools, and it expects local authorities to "challenge
schools which are causing concern and to focus on issues needing
attention which cut across more than one school".
47. In recognition of the need for best practice
to be shared within the school community, the Schools White Paper
proposes a new national network of 'Teaching Schools', accredited
by the National College,
and an increase in the number of Local and National Leaders
of Education (excellent head teachers who provide support to other
schools). It also
introduces 'Specialist Leaders of Education'excellent professionals
in leadership positions below the head teacher, who will support
peers in other schools.
The White Paper also states that National Strategies will be replaced
by "a new market of school improvement services with a much
wider range of providers and services available for schools to
Local authorities will be able to choose how to define and offer
school improvement support, for example by brokering support for
schools from local agencies.
48. We welcome
the White Paper's proposals for schools to take on greater responsibility
for organising training and sharing best practice on managing
behaviour. However, in areas where the majority of schools are
not performing well, it may be more difficult for best practice
to be shared effectively. In these circumstances, it is critical
that the local authority has the capacity to challenge and support
those schools which are causing concern, looking outside the local
authority for expert support where necessary.
54 Sir Alan Steer, Learning Behaviour, Lessons
Learned, 2009, para 4.16 Back
Q 1 Back
School Action is the term used to describe the first level of
school-based intervention, beyond differentiation of the curriculum,
for children with special educational needs Back
The Special Educational Needs and Disability Review, Ofsted,
14 September 2010, Executive Summary Back
Ev w20 Back
Ev 115 Back
Ev w143 Back
Ev 130, para 1.5 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 4.1 Back
Q 3 Back
Q 4 Back
Q 4 Back
Q 53 Back
Early Intervention: The Next Steps, January 2011 Back
The Foundation Years: preventing poor children becoming poor
adults, published 3 December 2010 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 4.6 Back
e.g. see Q139 [Charlie Taylor] Back
Independent review of the teaching of early reading, final
report by Jim Rose, March 2006 Back
Ev 145 Back
Ev 144 Back
Ev 145 Back
Q 70 Back
Q 211 Back
Sir Alan Steer, Learning Behaviour, 2005, para 26 Back
Sir Alan Steer, Learning Behaviour: Lessons Learned, 2009,
recommendation 10 Back
See Q 255 Back
Ev w68 Back
DCSF, Building a 21st century schools system, para 4.11 Back
Q 51 Back
Q 70 Back
Lead Behaviour Schools were identified as part of the 2009 Behaviour
Challenge, to assist with the aim for all schools to have a good
or outstanding Ofsted rating on behaviour, or be on track to reach
one at their next inspection. Lead Behaviour Schools have proven
expertise in behaviour management and were tasked with spreading
good practice and support to other schools. The original target
was to identify 100 Lead Behaviour Schools by September 2010.
At the time of taking evidence for this inquiry, only 20 existed. Back
See Qq 116, 117 Back
See Annex 2 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 5.37 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 2.24 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 2.43 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 2.26 Back
The Importance of Teaching, para 7.14 Back