Behaviour and Discipline in Schools - Education Committee Contents

Annex 2: Visit to Leicester, 11 November 2010

Meeting with Leicester City Council

The Committee took part in a panel discussion, led by John Broadhead, Behaviour and Attendance Strategic Lead for the City Council. During the discussion, the following points were raised.

The nature and level of challenging behaviour in Leicester schools

Leicester partners generally agreed that pupil behaviour in schools was good, with pockets of seriously disruptive behaviour from a minority of pupils. The fact that many pupils with behavioural, emotional and social needs and/or disabilities are now more likely to remain in mainstream school (whereas previously they may have fallen out of the school system entirely), may have contributed to a perception in some quarters that behaviour has deteriorated.

Leicester's Education Improvement Partnership

In Leicester, an Education Improvement Partnership, of which all secondary schools are members, was established in 2006. The partnership now focused predominantly on behaviour management, advocacy for headteachers, and providing continuing professional development on behaviour management for staff working in schools. When the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009 placed a duty on secondary schools to form Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships (that is for schools to co-operate with at least one other relevant partner with a view to promoting good behaviour), Leicester formalised its existing partnership arrangements, added new members, and pooled resources. The impact of effective partnership working is considered to be evident in the City's constantly falling permanent exclusion rate, which shows the following decreases year on year:

  • 2005: approximately 50 secondary pupils excluded
  • 2007: 28
  • 2008: 3
  • 2009: 3
  • 2010: 1

The City partnership holds a common view that permanent exclusion is expensive, ineffective, and curtails pupils' life chances. The partnership aims for a zero exclusion rate.

Partnership working between schools

In Leicester City, there is an established culture of less challenged schools supporting those with greater challenges in terms of pupil behaviour. However, Education Improvement Partnership Director, Bill Morris, pointed out that achieving effective partnership working between schools was easier in a smaller city like Leicester.

Partnership working with Youth Offending Teams

The City has recognised the importance of tackling behaviour outside the school gates as well as in the classroom. Effective partnerships between the local authority, schools and the Youth Offending Team have been instrumental in ensuring this can happen. Central to the YOT's work is its focus on getting families on-side in order to secure better cooperation from young people. The Education, Training and Employment Team within the Leicester City Youth Offending Service (YOS) is grant-funded and has no budget of its own. This funding, which is short term and target specific, has allowed the YOS to play a key role in the 'team around the child' when assessing - and providing support to - pupils with behavioural issues, who are involved with the YOS. The YOS runs parenting groups and Family Support Groups and believes that work on improving self-esteem and pupils' attitudes towards school and work is infinitely more important than focusing on issuing punitive measures such as Parenting Orders. The YOT is confident that it has solid evidence proving the effectiveness of its interventions with pupils and families.[258]

The future of partnership working

The City's Education Improvement Partnership is a consensual arrangement and has no official legal status. However, the partnership is seeking to become a legal entity in future. It is likely that the EIP will continue as a central commissioning body, with responsibility for providing continuing professional development to schools. The EIP is school-led, and local authority-supported.

With National Strategies coming to an end, the City Council sees its role as being a trainer for school leaders on matters of behaviour and discipline. The expectation is that school leaders will then cascade this knowledge and training down to school staff at all levels. Marie Bush, Vice Principal of Judgemeadow Community College, agreed that this approach would be helpful and added that Judgemeadow Community College could not have become a Lead Behaviour School by working in isolation. The ending of National Strategies was not deemed to be of great concern. Mrs Bush was not concerned by the prospect of her school having to take on a greater role in commissioning and procuring services for the school.

The role of Pupil Referral Units

Historically, the PRU in Leicester offered primary and secondary settings within the same provision. In the primary provision, partnership working with schools has been in place for some time, with use being made of interventions such as managed moves between partner schools to prevent exclusion. However, Key Stage 1 places in the PRU were often taken up by children coming through from foundation stage learning.

In 2002, the Primary Behaviour Support team was more closely aligned with the primary PRU, to form a Behaviour Continuum. The Primary Behaviour Continuum focus was to build capacity within schools to support pupils with SEBD - this was a major development at the time and allowed for much improved links between schools and services targeted at preventing exclusion. This included an improved 'outreach' service from the PRU (PRU teachers and support staff going into mainstream schools to support teachers in managing behaviour). Nurture groups are frequently used, and are seen as a highly effective intervention with younger pupils. Primary interventions also have a heavy focus on improving literacy, as this is a major issue amongst primary pupils.

At secondary level, the situation has been more challenging: getting secondary schools to sign up to partnerships was therefore considered to be critical to addressing the high exclusion rate at secondary level in previous years.

The Secondary Behaviour Support Service and the local Pupil Referral Unit are considered to be one and the same, owing to the fact that the PRU increasingly provides preventative interventions for pupils at risk of exclusion, or displaying poor behaviour. This demonstrates the City's increasing focus on preventing exclusion, rather than managing those pupils already excluded.

Everyone agreed that school leadership has a significant impact on the nature and level of behaviour in schools. Several of those present agreed that it was very difficult to plan for the impact of a change of leadership. It was therefore considered hugely important for mainstream schools and PRUs to maintain permanent and ongoing communication with each other, not just at times when consideration of exclusion was taking place. It was also agreed that much could be learned from the City's secondary schools which operate a 'one campus' model[259] in which concerns, information and resources are shared at all times, to facilitate effective management of pupils across the entire City.


The Committee learned how referrals to behaviour support services in Leicester were made. The Council refers to its services as a 'continuum of provision and support', with a variety of agencies working together to secure support for pupils. A common referral path would operate as follows:

  • Phonecall from school to support service, leading to discussions with either the Education Improvement Partnership Director or the Council's Secondary Behaviour Support Service. They would in turn liaise, as appropriate, with the Education Inclusion Team, Educational Psychologists, and Integrated Service Managers.
  • An Information Passport about the pupil under consideration needs to be collated. This 'single referral form' avoids the need for all concerned agencies to make multiple separate referrals to support services, and improves the quality of information shared between partners.
  • If partners decide that low-level interventions are required, 'School-Action'-type interventions are put in place, possibly with additional in-school support and advice from support services.
  • If higher level interventions are required, the following interventions are considered:
    • Off-site educational provision at a PRU
    • Split timetable between PRU and mainstream school
    • Vocational placements
  • For pupils with the highest levels of need (i.e. those at risk of immediate exclusion), the following actions and interventions
    • Pastoral Support Plan meetings and/or Common Assessment Framework process is initiated (a 'team around the child')
    • A full-time personal learning programme for the pupil is agreed
    • The City's Education Improvement Partnership (comprising all City secondary, faith and special schools, the City's one Academy and the Council's Behaviour Support Service) would be engaged to consider a managed move.
  • At present, it is not possible to refer pupils to the City's Special Schools without a Statement of SEN. However, the City is in the process of reviewing its current protocols to see if earlier referrals would be beneficial.

Early intervention

Early identification of difficulties was a large part of early intervention. Although witnesses agreed that early interventions were extremely important and had a marked effect on improving pupil behaviour, pupils with more complex needs often required continuing support and intervention at secondary school level. The Targeted Mental Health in Schools Programme (TaMHS) was singled out as having been particularly effective in Leicester as an early intervention.[260]

Pupils with SEN and Special Schools

Leicester partners commented on a dramatic increase in the number of primary pupils with serious behavioural issues requiring placements in Special Schools. These placements sometimes had to be out-of-city as the primary special school in the city had closed. Many pupils with Statements of SEN are not able to secure appropriate placements in Special Schools and waiting lists in specialist provision are very long.

Educational Psychology Services.

The view from Leicester's EP service was that, whilst behaviour in Leicester's schools was good on the whole, there remain a small proportion of highly disruptive pupils who require support and interventions from outside agencies. The EP service felt that the service provided to schools and pupils from outside agencies could be improved in the following ways:

  • Generally 'smarter' working with other partners
  • Focusing more on the link between school and home
  • Improving statutory SEN assessments, especially through enhanced parental involvement in assessments and increasing capacity in the service to deal with caseloads

CAMHS and Health interventions

CAMHS said that the local CBII (Child Behaviour Intervention Initiative)[261] had reduced waiting times for CAMHS. In 2006, waiting times for CAMHS were approximately 1.5 years. This has now been reduced to 4 months, with emergency referrals benefiting from a 24 hour emergency service.

CAMHS shares information with schools about pupils accessing its services, although CAMHS is not party to the Information Passport used by the Leicester Education Improvement Partnership. CAMHS is, however, a recipient of information gathered through Common Assessment Framework processes.

Leicester CAMHS is currently investigating what happens to young people who do not meet mental health service thresholds for intervention. The Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) has helped to bridge this gap, particularly by up-skilling school and other front-line staff in identifying and working with pupils with low-level mental health problems, therefore keeping them off waiting lists for higher-level CAMHS interventions.

CAMHS pointed out that it is sometimes difficult to persuade parents to accept interventions for their children due to the stigma which can be attached to mental health issues.

Speech Language and Communication Needs

Leicester schools have noticed a deterioration in pupils' speech, language and communication abilities, with reading ability and comprehension being major issues. Two thirds of adults in Leicester find reading difficult and the problem seems to be continuing in the younger generation, with experts blaming the home environment (too much television, a lack of conversation) in many cases. Leicester has invested heavily in staff to counter SLCN problems both in schools and out, but it admits that this is a burgeoning problem, with a direct impact on the nature and level of challenging behaviour in schools.

Impact of budget cuts

The Leicester partners agreed that cuts to local authority budgets would create serious challenges. The partnership aimed to deal with cuts by making more joint appointments and sharing expertise between partners more widely. The idea that schools might feel the need to compete for resources was considered to be "regrettable" and all partners concurred that strong partnerships between schools and local authority services would be increasingly important in tough economic times.

Visit to Beaumont Leys School

Peer coaching and mentoring

Beaumont Leys operates a system which it calls Supporting Progression, whereby all Year 9 and 10 pupils mentor a Year 7 or 8 pupil. Even the most challenging pupils are expected to take on this mentoring role and the school has found that pupils take the role very seriously. In turn, all Year 11 students are coached by senior staff and the school believes that this has contributed to their improved behaviour and attainment.

Raising aspiration

The school has taken an energetic approach to raising its own profile, and celebrating the achievements of the school and its pupils, to inculcate a sense of ambition and aspiration in all its students. Headteacher Liz Logie believes that developing pride in the school and its community is essential to promoting good behaviour. Careers advice starts at Year 7, at which point pupils are encouraged to think about choices relating to university and future employment.


Beaumont Leys does not use repeated fixed term exclusions to avoid permanent exclusion. Instead it focuses its attention on securing appropriate interventions for pupils at risk of exclusion. The school does not use a 'sin bin', although there is a "2 to 5 school" which is used as an alternative to exclusions, where pupils have to work in silence for three hours . Staff believe that mental health issues are a huge factor in the poor behaviour of many pupils. They estimate that mental health problems are a factor in maybe 60% of behaviour resulting in fixed-term exclusions. The school has not permanently excluded a student for three years, but that comes with a significant cost, as the school uses alternative provision.

Special Educational Needs

The school identifies managing the behaviour of pupils with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties as its major challenge, and the one which absorbs most energy and resources. The school staff provided a case study of a student with Social, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties and the steps taken by the school to maintain her education. Such children needed a huge amount of teaching, pastoral and specialist support in order to help them make academic progress. The annual cost to the school of staff support for children with SEBD and other special educational needs - excluding the cost of non-teaching pastoral staff - was at least £371,500.

Specialist support

Beaumont Leys spends £170k per year on non-teaching pastoral staff, who support pupils in school and can develop links with pupils' parents and carers - even those who are "hard to reach". As part of the school's ethos, it adopts the role of what it calls "the wise parent".

Staff would welcome greater access to more specialist support - from educational psychologists for example - and interventions from therapeutic services. At present the schools receives just 30 hours of support per year from educational psychology services. Difficult decisions have to be made about what to prioritise, particularly as processing one statement can take up to six hours of educational psychologists' time, even before writing the report. The educational psychologist therefore has very little capacity to support the school in carrying out preventative work in a more proactive way. The school has considered establishing its own educational psychology service, but has decided that this is not financially viable.

The school highlighted major difficulties in accessing CAMHS. Headteacher Liz Logie said that she had not had any contact with CAMHS in 8 years of her headship. Referrals had to be through GPs or educational psychologists. She stated that the lack of support for young people' s mental health problems was a 'national scandal ', and the school's inability to access CAMHS was described as a "disgrace". Asked whether the situation would improve if schools were able to commission CAMHS directly, she said this would only be effective if sufficient funds were made available but that it was certainly something to be considered.

The Common Assessment Framework process was working well in the Beaumont Leys area, but witnesses pointed out that this was not the case across the whole city.


The school pays particular attention to pupils going through the transition between Years 6 and 7 and has a system of mentoring and supporting students who are vulnerable or at risk in some way, in order that their introduction to secondary school goes smoothly. This includes pupils who have behavioural difficulties. There are particular problems with the low levels of literacy of many pupils entering Year 7. The school believes that this contributes to behaviour issues; the result is that the school has to invest significantly in 'catch up'. Teachers at Beaumont Leys felt that there was still insufficient early identification of specific special educational needs, as opposed to general needs, of children coming from primary schools. It was suggested that primary schools simply did not have the capacity to undertake what can be a very arduous process.


Staff said that having a high-quality curriculum and schemes of learning to support good teaching engaged students and therefore improved behaviour. For certain subjects, including geography and religious education, Beaumont Leys teachers have largely disposed with text books and re-written the Schemes of Learning to suit the needs of pupils and teachers' delivery style. This was felt to have been highly effective and to have had a positive impact on both attainment and behaviour.

Afternoon session with Leicestershire County Council and partners

The Committee took part in a panel discussion with the full range of partners involved in managing behaviour in Leicestershire. During the discussion, the following points were raised.

Partnership working

Leicestershire is a major proponent of partnership working in the interests of supporting good behaviour in schools. In addition to formal partnerships between schools and a variety of agencies, Leicestershire supports a range of more informal partnerships, such as sports and curriculum partnerships, all of which contribute to the behaviour and discipline agenda. School partnerships have had a significant impact on raising standards in schools which were previously facing more challenging circumstances. It is accepted amongst schools within partnerships that, even if an individual school is funding places in alternative provision but does not benefit from its services (as it has no pupils in need), it is still preferable for schools to operate in a collegiate way in order to protect the best interests of all young people in an area.

Managing behaviour in and out of school

The National Strategies SEAL (Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning) programme has been implemented in most Leicestershire schools. Partners believe that SEAL has been successful in equipping the majority of pupils with the tools and skills they need to manage their own behaviour successfully. However, partners agreed that most behavioural problems can be traced to a pupil's home environment and so interventions are often focused on supporting pupils and their families. Sure Start children's centres were having an effect in teaching parents how to attach to their children.

Preventing exclusions

Numbers of permanent exclusions had reduced from 120 in 2006/07 to 26 in 2009/10. Leicestershire operates five Local Authority Area Placement and Support Panels (previously Hard to Place Panels) in the County. These panels arrange managed moves between schools and also act as commissioning bodies to arrange alternative provision for pupils at risk of exclusion. Leicestershire has noticed that the performance of the Area Placement and Support Panels varies across the County and work is therefore underway to improve consistency across all areas.

The Key Stage 3-4 Pupil Referral Unit came out of special measures on the day prior to the Committee's visit. The group of local headteachers who ran the PRU jointly as 'Executive Headteachers' believe that the PRU's failings were due to it being used as a "dumping ground" for all permanently excluded pupils. The Executive believe that putting all permanently excluded pupils in the same provision without good quality leadership and planning is "disastrous".

One headteacher told the Committee that, whilst there was a strong commitment to schools working in partnership to prevent exclusion, partners faced particular difficulties in securing alternative provision, especially for pupils aged 15-16. All partners agreed that significant improvements in the availability and quality of alternative provision were needed. Partners also pointed out that it was very expensive to provide a mix of academic and vocational provision to meet the needs of all pupils. They also considered non-school providers to be relatively more expensive.

Children in care

One of the great benefits of partnership working between schools and the local authority is the ability of partners to operate as a 'virtual school' for all children in care. Two youth workers were employed to help children in care improve their self-esteem. Links between schools, pupil referral units and the local authority allow information about children in care to be shared amongst partners and appropriate support provided to young people. Exclusions had fallen from 32.2% in 2007/08 to 12.5% in 2009/10. None were permanently excluded.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

Liz Mair, CAMHS commissioner , pointed out that mental health problems are common; however, not all children and young people with mental health problems need specialist services. Also there is a commonly held misconception that all CAMH services are specialist. She suggested that up to 35% of all referrals of children and young people to specialist CAMHS need something other than specialist services. The waiting time for specialist CAMHS has recently reduced from an average of 30 weeks to 10 weeks for non-urgent CAMHS assessment and treatment, although the CAMHS partnership accepts that this needs to be reduced further. Urgent cases can be escalated and are seen as a priority, and within 2 days as a maximum. Greater awareness of the differences between mental health problems and conduct disorders is required amongst front-line workers to enable children, young people and families to get the help they need at the earliest opportunity. Partners agreed that the Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) programme had been helpful in up-skilling front-line workers, but that the full impact of the 3 year programme would need to be reviewed before deciding on whether to take TaMHS further.

Considerations for the future

The Senior School Development Adviser believed that National Strategies had had a "massive impact". The focus now was on self-reliance, and the ending of National Strategies was only felt to be a concern for those schools who are currently graded 'satisfactory' in terms of behaviour and discipline. Partners agreed that the local authority would need to take on a much greater role in challenging and supporting schools to ensure improvement in this respect.

Funding for 'Lead Behaviour Schools' was considered to be invaluable in providing guidance and support for schools with behaviour issues. Partners therefore would be concerned if this funding was to be withdrawn in future.

Cuts in local authority youth service budgets were considered to be a major threat, with serious repercussions for behaviour both in and outside of school. One headteacher said that the threat to initiatives such as school sports partnerships were a "disaster waiting to happen". Leicestershire partners were also sceptical of the ability of the third sector and volunteers to fill the void left behind as services are withdrawn. The Youth Offending Service added its concerns to the discussion, stating that referrals to Youth Offending Teams have dropped considerably as a result of a wide range of preventative interventions. The YOS also mentioned the street-based work with young people in anti-social behaviour hotspots that has been successful in reducing anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods.

258   See attached NI 45 performance returns Back

259   The 'one campus' model is broadly based on the concept of a 'virtual school' in which all secondary schools in Leicester City work together collaboratively, to achieve the best possible outcomes for all young people, for whom the Partnership is jointly responsible and accountable. Back

260   Targeted Mental Health in Schools (TaMHS) is a three-year pathfinder programme, which started in 2008, aimed at supporting the development of innovative models of therapeutic and holistic mental health support in schools for children and young people aged five to 13 at risk of, and/or experiencing, mental health problems; and their families. The programme began in April 2008 when 25 local authorities and their corresponding Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) commenced pathfinder work. It was funded by the then DCSF. Back

261   The Leicester City Child Behaviour Intervention Initiative (CBII) is an early intervention and prevention service for children aged 0-11 years and their families who are vulnerable because of children's behavioural, psychological or mental health needs and where children are prone to underachievement and social exclusion. The team is made up of Family Support Workers, Educational Psychologists, Assistant Educational Psychologists from Children and Young People's Service (CYPS), and Primary Mental Health Workers from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). CBII is run as a partnership between the Leicester Children and Young People's Service and Leicestershire NHS Trust (CAMHS).  Back

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