Session 2010-11
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Evidence heard in Public

Questions 208 - 316



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Education Committee

on Wednesday 17 November 2010

Members present:

Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)

Neil Carmichael

Nic Dakin

Bill Esterson

Pat Glass

Damian Hinds

Charlotte Leslie

Ian Mearns

Tessa Munt

Lisa Nandy

Craig Whittaker

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Katharine Birbalsingh, ex-Deputy Head, Daisy Christodolou, Teach First Ambassador, Sue Cowley, Educational Author, Trainer and Presenter, Paul Dix, Lead Trainer and Director, Pivotal Education, and Tom Trust, Former Elected Member for Secondary Sector, General Teaching Council for England, gave evidence.

Q208 Chair: Good morning. Thank you very much for joining us this morning for this behaviour and discipline inquiry. It is a great pleasure to have you with us. We tend to do this fairly informally and use first names, if you are all comfortable with that. You have come to give evidence to us this morning. If you had to pick one thing that could be adopted and help to improve behaviour and discipline in our schools, what would it be? Can I start with you, Tom? And don’t cheat.

Tom Trust: One thing is a return to the belief that, where respect comes into the equation, the children should actually be respecting their teachers rather than the other way round, depending on the definition of "respect" that you are using.

Q209 Chair: Isn’t respect necessarily mutual?

Tom Trust: Yes, but it has a number of different definitions. What a lot of children who are less well behaved appear to mean by the word is that you-the teacher-should defer to them. That is one meaning of "respect". One of the things that I have found as a teacher over the years is that it is usually the children who have done the least to earn respect who expect you to defer to them.

Q210 Chair: So it is a re-establishment of adult authority.

Tom Trust: Yes, if you want to précis it, that would be the summation.

Daisy Christodolou: I would arrange school timetables so that pupils are taught by as few teachers as possible over a week, and that teachers teach as few pupils as possible, whereas currently a teacher may teach 20 lessons a week and may teach 20 different classes. Teachers therefore have to see hundreds of pupils and know all their stories, all their targets and everything about them. If it can be done so that they teach only four or five classes a week, it would allow teachers and pupils to form better bonds and better relationships and reduce the likelihood of pupils misbehaving.

Paul Dix: I would introduce to teacher training throughout, whichever route you take to become a teacher, compulsory high-standard, high quality training and behaviour management. We must be honest about the skills that we can teach and ask teachers to teach behaviour rather than just to rely on our culture moving towards better behaviour. We must actually teach the skills, but do it so that it is consistent throughout the country and do it when it has most impact, which is in initial teacher training. We must make that training of the highest quality that it can be and teach behaviour on a par with how teachers learn to teach the curriculum.

Q211 Chair: Do you think that the training of teachers in behaviour management is poor?

Paul Dix: It is shockingly patchy. When it is poor, it is half an hour in a seminar and sink or swim. We have proved that we can teach it, and when we do teach it, it turns schools around. We have been doing it for 10 years. Let us have it as a core competence. Let us give teachers the ability to learn it in training, so that they do not come to us and say, "Thank God we met you 30 years later. If only somebody had told me that 30 years ago."

Sue Cowley: I am going with Paul on this. I meet NQTs 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 that are not easy to put in place, but that are straightforward to communicate to NQTs? Why has nobody told us practical ways of actually managing behaviour?" A lot more complex things could be changed, but of all the things that could be changed in a fairly straightforward way, it would be to give new teachers access to those techniques and strategies that make a direct difference in classrooms.

Q212 Chair: Behaviour and discipline is not some new faddish concern. It has gone on for years. How can we have a system of initial teacher training, continuing professional development and the most researched educational system in the whole world and not have put in place basic, well-recognised techniques?

Sue Cowley: Yet all the time I meet new teachers who say to me, "Nobody ever told me this," and it is such a straightforward thing.

Katharine Birbalsingh: While I agree with my colleagues, we have got things the wrong way round. We are always concentrating on looking at the behaviour and then dealing with the behaviour. All that is very good and, clearly, there are a lot of ways of dealing with behaviour from the teacher’s point of view. That is an excellent idea and we need to teach the teachers that, but what we need to do is to hold staff to account. In particular, we need to hold the senior teams to account. When I say, "hold them to account", senior teams are responsible for leading schools and for supporting their teachers.

Too often, senior teams fail their teachers by not supporting them properly and by having low expectations. We need to ensure that the right questions are asked of senior teams. Are they putting systems in place to ensure that the right kind of environment exists in the schools, so that the behaviour we are talking about does not happen and the level of bad behaviour is reduced? Clearly, teachers still need to know how to deal with that behaviour, but if senior teams were doing their job properly across the country, we would not have the state of behaviour that we have at the moment.

Q213 Chair: What happens to people on the front line who try to highlight the situation and ask for greater levels of support?

Katharine Birbalsingh: Obviously, it depends on the school. It is not that people don’t want to help. There is too much in-house variation to which some people here have referred. If you are an excellent teacher and can manage that behaviour, you will survive wherever you are and do well. Then what tends to happen is that senior teams say, "If he can do it, why can’t she?" But it is the role of leaders in schools to ensure that all teachers can discipline their students. That doesn’t mean taking responsibility away from the member of staff, but there is a real lack of responsibility in our schools. The children and teachers are not responsible for themselves, and it’s the same with senior teams. Often in schools, you see the senior teams blame the teachers and say, "If only they had the skills and were as clever as I am, everything would be fine." And the teachers say, "The senior team are horrible. They won’t support me and won’t do anything." There is a kind of back-biting that goes on, and the people who are lost, obviously, are the children in between.

Q214 Chair: Do the rest of you accept Katharine’s analysis? We have heard evidence that leadership teams in schools tend to be slightly removed from the reality of front-line teachers who have to put up with behaviour, and sometimes that doesn’t seem to filter upwards. It is certainly not recognised, and teachers facing challenge are not supported in the way that they should be.

Daisy Christodolou: I agree with most of that.

Paul Dix: It comes back to the same issue-the fact that they all start from different starting points. If you don’t allow people access to high quality training, you will have teachers who are failing and struggling, and teachers who are absolutely flying. There is also variation in senior management teams. Some are on the ground every day, deeply committed to being out of their offices and involved in the life of the school. Some shut their doors and lock themselves away. Again-I’m sure we’ll come to it-the patchy nature of effective leadership is a core issue.

Q215 Chair: You have said that behaviour management techniques for front-line teachers can be taught. Is there something just as discreet and deliverable that can be given to school leaders? Obviously, Katharine’s point is different from yours. Regardless of the skill of the teacher, the really highly skilled ones might be able to cope more easily but they also need support and help when required. Can that be delivered?

Paul Dix: Yes. We do exactly that. We work with future leaders, head teachers and middle management teams to create the conditions where the training will have most effect. That is what we do. It’s proven. HMI and Ofsted have seen it and commended it.

Tom Trust: What Katharine said is crucial. Without identifying any locations, I have worked in a school where the head’s attitude towards a teacher having a problem with a disruptive pupil was to say, "It’s your problem. Your lessons must be uninteresting," or "Your methods are not good enough." Then you can have a situation where a head or senior team give support, which has a number of benefits. It certainly lifts staff morale. I sat on a case recently where a head had gone into a school to turn it around. He put 13 members of staff on capability in one go. That must have had a devastating effect on staff room morale, which of course will then feed down to their performance in the classroom. It will do nothing to improve the school. On the other hand, in another school I am aware of-I won’t identify it-a head has just come in and has started from the point of view of the pupils. He has shown the staff that he is supporting them in a school where they had felt unsupported, where there were all the various problems. They were getting stressed out. They had absences and so forth. He has come into the school and started dealing with pupils. He said to the staff, "If you have any problems, I will deal with them." He has confronted the problem in that direction and lifted the morale of the staff. I am aware of it because I know many of them. So, I am underlining what Katharine has said. The role of senior teams in this matter is absolutely crucial, but very patchy.

Q216 Nic Dakin: Good morning. Thank you all for coming. I have to leave before the end of the session because of constituency matters, so I apologise for that. Can I take this a little further? How do we ensure that school leaders in the increasingly devolved situation that we are moving into meet the highest aspirations that you are describing in terms of leading on behaviour? How do we do that?

Tom Trust: I think that that will be very difficult. You referred to the devolved powers, and I think that that will make any kind of consistent approach very difficult. It is what this Government seem to want to do. What the solution is, I do not know.

Sue Cowley: When I talk to teachers-mainly on the ground with them, as opposed to with managers-the thing that most worries them is when there is a kind of disjoint between what happens in the classroom and the support that is provided by the management. Teachers will say to me, "I follow the school policy and I discipline-I give a verbal warning, a written warning, and then I go to the next stage up and the next stage up. But nothing happens when that goes up the line." So it is a case of joining up the teacher in the classroom-on the ground, with the kids-and finding a way for management to follow through at the top end of the disciplinary policy. Otherwise, the children quickly learn that when the teacher says, "This will happen," it does not, which is a big problem in schools.

Katharine Birbalsingh: We have to hold them to account. We need to ask questions-we need to ask the same questions of staff that we do of senior teams. We say to them, "What kind of bad behaviour do you put up with? What do you think is acceptable?" You ask the head and the deputies, and then you ask the same of staff, to see if they match up-if they do not, you need to ask a few more questions. You need to ask them about what kinds of systems they have in place in the school to support the teachers, and if they work. Ask the senior team and then ask the staff to see whether they match up and then, finally, hold them to account.

Quite simply if people do not do their jobs, they need to be fired. If people cannot do their jobs there needs to be some sense that they might lose them. Members of the senior team do not feel that, so they go about their jobs doing whatever it is that they do. In the same way that we need to hold teachers and children to account, we need to hold senior teams to account. We should not allow these things to spin out of control for years and years. If a school is in chaos, the senior team is doing something wrong and we need to point our finger at them and say, "This isn’t good enough," and hold them to account. We should not feel fear about doing that.

In any other industry, if you do not do your job properly, you lose it. Why can we not have that in teaching? I want to be able to work in a profession that is held in such high regard that when I do well, someone says, "Well done," and when I do not do well, I think, "Oh my goodness-I’m in fear for my job." That is how it should be-like it is in industry.

Q217 Nic Dakin: There seems to be a difference between your approach and Tom’s.

Tom Trust: I agree that senior teams should be accountable. I am very supportive of the notion of 360° appraisal. Managers and heads are not appraised by the people whom they most affect-the staff. I do not want to leave out the fact that how they affect the staff also affects the children, which is why the whole thing is there in the first place.

I have sat on cases for the General Teaching Council, which I have resigned from, by the way-I am not in it any more. There have been a couple of times when I have sat on a case and I have heard a head teacher giving evidence against a teacher, and I have sat there thinking, "You should be in the dock as well-so to speak-because what you were doing was clearly not helping the situation."

Paul Dix: Hold people accountable, but train them effectively first-give them an opportunity to learn the skills. Many of our middle and senior managers went through a period when we had corporal punishment. We put down the cane and we replaced it with nothing, and we force teachers to guess. Well, if you were previously striking your students and suddenly you are told not to, what do you do? You shout, you rail, and you try to replace the physical punishment with some sort of emotional punishment. Nobody trained our teachers, so, absolutely, hold senior and middle management to account-but train them so that they can do it.

None of this is particularly revolutionary or new, it just needs to be done. It has never been done apart from where we go-where we go and do it, we see schools in the worst possible situations turn around, because people get it. If you train them and then they do not get it, and they are clearly not taking up the opportunity, you can tackle them. The national strategy has trained teachers in need, but it did not train all teachers; it trained some managers and some middle managers, but it did not give that consistency across the country. What is the motor of a good school? It is the middle management, and where they are not trained appropriately, you see things fall down. You can train the staff as well as you want, but if you have not trained the middle and senior management, the whole thing is a waste of money.

Daisy Christodolou: This ties into devolved powers to schools. Sue said about how you punish a kid, you go up the behaviour policy and get to the top of it-then what happens? The ultimate sanction is permanent exclusion, which is something that would be affected by devolved powers, as PRUs are commissioned on a local authority basis. I have a great deal of sympathy for people who have to operate in this area. When I was at the classroom level, I did not see such things happen. I can sense a lot of pressure for and there are probably a lot of people who want to exclude pupils. Nevertheless, from my position in the classroom, it seemed that there were a lot of pupils who could do unacceptable things repeatedly, and they had to do an awful lot that was really bad in order to be permanently excluded.

I understand that it is difficult and that the PRUs have a lot of pressure on them. However, you may have the best bullet in the world-the best trained teachers in the world-but kids know that they can get to the top level of sanction and, as it sometimes seems, effectively just start again at the beginning. They work their way up to the top, and begin again. If there is no ultimate sanction at the top, it is very hard-for all the skills and all the techniques-to enforce any of this. Kids quickly see through it.

Q218 Nic Dakin: May I move on to a different picture? We have taken a lot of evidence and also visited several institutions, so we have looked at what is going on. To me, the general picture is that behaviour in schools is generally good to very good. But there are some pockets of difficult behaviour, with a few students in particular schools, and probably across them. Does that match your assessment of what is going on?

Sue Cowley: There are two things going on, when I talk to teachers. First, there is the low-level stuff, which a competent, inspirational teacher can deal with fairly simply. Secondly, there is a core group of students with what I consider to be fairly serious behavioural issues, who, since inclusion, are perhaps in a mainstream environment that does not suit their needs. One, two, three or x number-it’s the weight of numbers-of those kind of students can destroy the learning for 30 kids in a class. That breaks teachers’ hearts. They say, "I just want to teach. There are 27 in there who all want to learn. And I have these three hardcore students." It is the hardcore ones who can destroy the education of the other children, which is really just a crime.

Q219 Nic Dakin: But you are saying that that is an exception rather than a rule.

Sue Cowley: It only happens in certain schools. In most schools, it is the low-level stuff, and if you have one, two or three difficult students, you can support them and put them into the referral unit. But where there is a weight of numbers in a school, it moves to the negative side-the ethos of the school is affected and there is a snowball effect.

Daisy Christodolou: I agree completely about the two levels-low-level disruption and serious misbehaviour-but they are linked. Even if only a few pupils do really quite bad things, if they are seen to be getting away with those things, it makes it so much harder to tell a kid at the back of the class to stop drinking a Coke or to do their tie up properly, so the two are linked. It may be a minority of pupils who behave in that way, but if you don’t deal with it effectively-in a lot of cases, we don’t-it impacts on everyone and lowers standards across the school.

Katharine Birbalsingh: I want to say that what Daisy has said about holding pupils to account, and their having some final sanction happening to them, is a big issue. What Sue has said obviously follows on from that. I also want to point out on the difference between good and very good that it depends what you mean by good and very good.

Q220 Nic Dakin: I am looking at Sir Alan Steer’s inquiry into behaviour and at Ofsted inspection reports. That is the evidence base that we have been given.

Katharine Birbalsingh: I would say that when Ofsted says something is good, it’s not very good. Certainly, from the thousands of teachers I have spoken to, the many teachers who have now written to me-given my new profile-and others who have spoken to me in the street, I would say that bad behaviour in the country is quite common. That does not mean that all children are badly behaved. You have a situation where 27 of them are fine, but three of them are being disruptive in most classes across the country. Because you do not have the final possible outcome-the child knows that they go up, come back down again and go up, and that there is nothing that can be ultimately done about them-you often have two or three students in each class who are misbehaving in such a way. Bad behaviour spreads like a cancer; it is very difficult to contain it. One very badly behaved student impacts on a second one, who is quite badly behaved, and those two impact on two others, who are somewhat badly behaved. It spreads, so that even the very good students become somewhat unsettled. That creates a situation where you have low-level behaviour. People often dismiss that, and say, "It’s just low-level behaviour, that’s okay." You’d be amazed, however, at how disruptive to learning low-level behaviour is.

Q221 Nic Dakin: I think that people understand that. The reality is that we have a base of evidence, through Ofsted inspections and through Sir Alan Steer, which says that behaviour is good to very good. You are saying that your anecdotal evidence base challenges that. You’re saying that in every classroom there are three disruptive students, whereas Ofsted is saying that it has not seen that.

Katharine Birbalsingh: No. I’m saying that it is in lots of classrooms.

Tom Trust: I must question Mr Dakin’s sources-the Steer report and Ofsted. I have read the Steer report, and I think that he talked to a lot of head teachers. Head teachers have told me that there are no discipline problems in their school when there have been copies of lesson observations that they have taken when they have been observing the teacher. In those observations, there have been a list of misdemeanours happening with the head in the room. I have also heard a head say, on oath, that there were no disciplinary problems, even though there were press reports stating that there were. Getting evidence from head teachers is not always reliable, because they have a lot to lose.

On Ofsted, I did some supply in a school that was having an Ofsted report, and I got my supply list for the lessons that I was covering that day. I was told that those teachers were not away, but that I was going in the classroom with them. In I went. I later found out that it was unlikely that Ofsted inspectors will go into a class that is being covered by a supply teacher-it is not impossible, but it is unlikely. Each morning, the Ofsted inspectors were given the little pile of cover slips, and they knew which lessons were being covered. They thought that the ones that I was supposed to be covering were covered, but they weren’t. They were terrible classes. They did not necessarily have weak teachers-perhaps some were-but they were full of really disruptive pupils. Ofsted’s views on behaviour are not worth the paper they are written on, in my humble opinion, because there are lots of strategies that head teachers use to avoid the Ofsted inspectors seeing the worst children. That may shock you, and you may think that that is an isolated incident, but it is not-it happens.

I have one crucial point to make. I was elected to the GTC by secondary teachers. I objected to the GTC’s stance at the time on not supporting teachers on the question of unruly pupils. That was my election statement and secondary teachers had to vote for 11 out of 24 candidates. I got the fifth highest number of first choice votes. Okay, there was only 7% turnout, but 7% of 250,000 teachers is a very good sample compared with a YouGov poll or a Mori poll. I thought, "Hang on," because I hadn’t expected to be elected; I was just making a statement.

Q222 Chair: I take it that that is a statistical indication of genuine concern among secondary teachers.

Tom Trust: Yes. It is there among secondary school teachers.

Q223 Chair: I want to bring Lisa in, because we have got a lot to cover, but does anyone else want to add anything on that? Both Katharine and Tom have said that they do not think that Ofsted and Steer give an accurate reflection of the level of indiscipline in our schools.

Paul Dix: We can all throw anecdotes in front of you to prove the story either way. What is clear is that behaviour is good or outstanding in most of our schools. If you asked teachers whether they would appreciate more input on behaviour, they would say, "Absolutely, yes." We should give them that, and we should focus resources on those schools and pupils that are most in need.

Q224 Chair: So, you broadly accept the Ofsted analysis, although there is obviously still ample room for improvement.

Paul Dix: Yes.

Q225 Chair: Sue, do you accept the Ofsted analysis?

Sue Cowley: Generally speaking, behaviour is good and fine. We mustn’t demonise children. They are just being like we were. A lot of this stuff is what we did when we were at school: "Let’s wind up the teacher." I think you have to be really careful. This is the current generation of children. They are different from how we were when we were at school, but they are essentially children. But there are some schools in crisis; don’t get me wrong.

Daisy Christodolou: Briefly, I have concerns. I don’t have any statistical data to back it up, but some Ofsted reports and the Steer report don’t ring true with what I see. I think a lot comes down to what Katharine has said about what you define as good behaviour. If you say bad behaviour is only something that is at the extremes of violence, then yes, it is a minority. But if you define it more broadly, which I think it is fair to do, then I think that there are problems. I think it is a significant issue among the teachers I trained with, who represent a fairly big cross section.

Paul Dix: But you’re in the most challenging schools, though, so your experience is skewed by that.

Daisy Christodolou: That is true, but it is still a lot of schools.

Paul Dix: But they’re all identified as challenging schools, which is why Teach First is involved.

Daisy Christodolou: But in challenging circumstances, some of them are classified as outstanding.

Chair: I am going to bring this dialogue to a close, as fascinating and enjoyable as it is.

Q226 Lisa Nandy: I’ve heard from most of the panel that you have real concerns about Ofsted’s ability to give us an accurate picture of the level and nature of challenging behaviour in schools. What suggestions do you have for how we might get a really accurate picture?

Sue Cowley: You want to do what it is doing in early years, which is Ofsted turns up without warning. If you want an accurate picture, and do not want schools to exclude pupils for the week, you want to get it down to, "Right, somebody turns up." But equally, what you don’t want to do is have this punitive model. At the moment, there is this sense that Ofsted is just here to pass judgment-there is no sense that there’s the kind of support that there used to be with the kind of LEA inspection model. I think that has kind of gone missing down the years somewhere.

Q227 Lisa Nandy: Do the rest of you agree with that-if Ofsted were seen to be more of a way of helping schools to improve and reach standards rather than just an inspection model?

Sue Cowley: If you want schools to be honest and give an honest picture of what goes on day to day, then you can’t expect all lessons to be outstanding. Some days, teachers are knackered, and they need to have a lesson that just kind of paces along. Some days, they are an inspiration, absolutely, but on a Friday, when it’s the last thing, it has been raining all day, and the kids are narky, you adapt, and you’re flexible. Not every day is every single teacher in the country going to be able to prove that they’re outstanding.

Q228 Lisa Nandy: The other members of the panel said largely that Ofsted underestimates the level of challenging behaviour in schools; I know you didn’t, Paul. The Children’s Commissioner put to us the opposite point of view, which is that because Ofsted focuses very much on lower-performing schools, the picture we get of poor behaviour is over-inflated. Do any of you have any response to that?

Katharine Birbalsingh: For the vast majority of my career, I have only ever worked in good and outstanding schools. Ofsted’s standards are not high enough when it comes to behaviour-it is as simple as that.

The problem is that we’ve got it the wrong way round, as I said at the beginning. We keep thinking, "Well, there’s bad behaviour. What do we do about it?" Of course we need to think like that, but what we are not thinking about is: how do we create an environment where that behaviour doesn’t happen in the first place? That is what we must concentrate on. Ofsted doesn’t even look at that. It is not thinking about what kinds of systems are in place to ensure that a certain environment is created. We always come to it after the fact, and don’t pre-empt. We’re not trying to create a certain environment. What we’re doing is we wait for the behaviour to happen, and then we’re thinking about how we react to it. Of course we need to react to it and have innovative ways of dealing with behaviour, but it is not even necessarily in the thinking of senior teams that those environments need to be created. It is not in the thinking of inspectors. It’s just not in anyone’s thinking, frankly, and that’s what we need to do.

Q229 Lisa Nandy: The Government’s direction of travel is very much about trying to free up good or outstanding schools from inspection. Do you think that that’s a positive thing in relation to behaviour, or do you think that that might cause some problems?

Tom Trust: If they aren’t going to look at the outstanding schools, what yardstick are they going to use to measure others by?

Q230 Bill Esterson: Can I ask the panel to define what they regard as unacceptable behaviour, and what they define as children being children, and where the line between the two is?

Paul Dix: That is a fascinating question. I was at a school the other day where somebody had been excluded for what in another school would be a terribly minor offence, but they suddenly found themselves permanently excluded. They go to the pupil referral unit, which asks, "What on earth are you doing? I have other children who have been excluded for extreme offences, and all you’ve done is something very minor." What in one school passes for horseplay in another is a critical incident.

Unless we start to get some consistency in the tariff, we will find that in some areas pupil referral units and alternative provision are stuffed with people who were being teenagers but got caught out on a bad day, and in others there are extremely violent, aggressive, damaged young people who are in need of a lot of support. I don’t think there is an easy answer to what is good behaviour. In Stoke, it is different from what it is in Edinburgh.

Sue Cowley: I think that it is fairly straightforward. If a kid tells me to F off or spits at me, that is unacceptable behaviour. If they are talking during my lesson because I have spent half an hour rambling on at them, their behaviour is partly caused by my approaches to teaching and learning. I need to take some responsibility for the low-level stuff. So I won’t have talking while I’m talking-it is unacceptable, but it is to do with my skill as a teacher. It is those things that Paul and I have said. You can train teachers to deal with them, but things like telling me to F off-I’m sorry, that is unacceptable, in all walks of life. I meet teachers who tell me that yesterday a kid in their class told them to F off but nothing happened. There is a disjoint between day to day in the classroom and what the managers do about it.

Katharine Birbalsingh: I fundamentally disagree with Sue. What Sue has just said demonstrates precisely what is wrong with our thinking in schools. Of course, you are a dynamic teacher, you are interesting and you do everything the right way, and you can keep your students entertained and interested in working and so on. Sometimes there are ordinary teachers-in fact, often there are ordinary teachers, simply because the extraordinary is exceptional, by definition. Therefore, there are lots of teachers who sometimes ramble on, but, because we have this way of seeing things-"It is my fault for their misbehaving because I rambled on," which is exactly what Sue said-it is partly the teacher’s fault, because they did not entertain the child enough or teach the child well enough.

Of course, there is truth in that-if you have a very good teacher who does not ramble, the children will not misbehave. However, we must not then allow that to make us think that it is the teacher’s and not the child’s fault when the child misbehaves. It is very important that children are responsible for themselves. Even when they are in the most boring of situations-it is Friday afternoon, it is raining outside and they have the most boring teacher in front of them-we should still have the highest expectations of behaviour. In certain schools, that will be the case; in other schools, the teacher will be held responsible for the bad behaviour, and that is where we go wrong. We should not be holding the teacher responsible. We should be holding the students responsible.

Sue Cowley: You said earlier that teachers-

Chair: Sue, I am not having a dialogue.

Sue Cowley: Sorry.

Daisy Christodolou: I would agree with that. Pupils would be fine, they would be very well behaved in my class, they would be my children, but I would hear stories about them misbehaving in another class in school. I would sometimes see them misbehaving in front of a supply teacher, and I would ask them afterwards, "What were you doing? I know you can behave. Why were you doing that?", and they would say, "Oh, Miss, it wasn’t my fault. The teacher couldn’t control me." I heard that from one or two people. It was a common refrain from good pupils who could behave. I was gobsmacked when I first heard it. I would sometimes ask, "What, if you were in a sweet shop with a policeman standing next to you, would it be okay to steal the sweets?" At some point, you have to say that it is unacceptable for a pupil who is capable of behaving and who knows how to do it to start misbehaving, because they think that something is going on for too long.

Q231 Bill Esterson: I am not sure whether that was quite the point that Sue was making.

To move on from that point, what works in terms of managing behaviour both for the lower level stuff and the higher level stuff?

Tom Trust: Can I come in on that because I have not given my view on your original question? I created a definition. I prepared a paper on disruptive pupils a year ago for a policy committee, and wrote: "If a pupil’s behaviour causes the teacher to have to interrupt the flow of a lesson so that the whole class ceases to be taught for a measurable length of time or if that behaviour prevents just one or two pupils, even the pupil himself, from benefiting from the teacher’s input for those pupils or that pupil, the lesson has been disrupted." It is very simple. It takes in the low-level disruption, not just the extreme cases.

I also wrote: "If we wish to do service to the ‘Every Child Matters’ principle-I don’t know the status of that particular principle with the change of Government-"the needs of the disruptive child have to be met, but they are clearly not best met in otherwise well-managed mainstream classes or else the child would not behave in a disruptive way. The needs of the other children in the class who also matter are obviously not best met by the lessons being disrupted." I do not know whether that is helpful, but you asked what we thought was meant by disruption.

Q232 Bill Esterson: What about the techniques that work in managing behaviour?

Paul Dix: The best schools have a sign above the door regardless of what context they are working in, which says, "This is how we do it here." When you walk through the doors of that school, the expectations of behaviour are different from those outside. The behaviours that you use in the community or the behaviours that you use with your parents might well work out there, but when you walk through that door, that is how they do it there. The best schools have absolute consistency. I don’t care whether the system they use is behaviourist or whether the system they use is extremely old-fashioned, the critical difference is that people sign up to it and teachers act with one voice and one message: "This is how we do it here".

You can find those beacons of hope in the communities in most poverty, and you also find that the best independent schools do exactly the same thing, such as, "This is the Harrow way," or whatever it might be. It is, "When you walk through the door, this is how we do it here." The best teachers have the same sign above their door. What works is consistency, not trying to tackle all behaviour at once but deciding which behaviours are to be taught. It is not relying on the parents to teach it, but saying, "You need these behaviours to be a successful learner in this school. We are not going to hide them. We are going to teach you them. We will teach the staff how to do it." I see that evidence every day in schools that are moving forward in the hardest circumstances. It is not necessarily an issue of resources. It is an issue of commitment and focus for the school and of absolute consistency.

Sue Cowley: They are very high expectations, clearly stated and clearly applied, with a system to back them up when they are not being met. It is not the teacher’s fault the students misbehave, but equally the teacher has a responsibility to set high expectations, to refuse to talk over students and to ensure that students listen to them, but at the same to be willing to build relationships, build trust and be flexible with the most troubled. The stories you hear about some children turn your blood to ice. We cannot just say to some of them, "Right, do this-or else you’re out!" That is not appropriate. Flexibility at the same time is the hardest thing in teaching. I have high standards and high expectations, but I am flexible and I achieve those in the best and simplest way to build a relationship with my children.

Q233 Bill Esterson: Can I pick you up on that point? I sometimes hear in schools about children being given a bit more leeway for the very reasons you are describing, which is that something is going on in their lives.

Sue Cowley: I understand what you are saying.

Q234 Bill Esterson: There is a perception of different treatment for some children. What about the other children who then say, "Hang on a minute, how come he or she is allowed to get away with it?"

Sue Cowley: Can I clarify that? Teachers ask me about that frequently. I am not saying that the standard differs. It is an equal, consistent standard for everybody, but I could say to one kid, "Sort your tie out", but to another kid I may have to go across to them and whisper, "Can you get your tie sorted out?" For some kids, it is appropriate to say across the class, "Sort your ties out," but for other kids I need to achieve that standard but by using different techniques-those are the techniques that we are talking about: consistency, but flexibility in how I achieve the consistent standards-because we are humans and so are the kids.

Daisy Christodolou: I agree with Paul that consistency is phenomenally important; if different things are going on in different parts of the school it is really difficult to maintain standards. I also think that the larger the school, the harder it is to be consistent-it is not impossible, but it can be more difficult.

Katharine Birbalsingh: These are the questions that one must ask of the senior team-how do you get consistency across the school? How do you ensure that staff are all doing similar things and are having similar expectations in their classrooms? That is rarely asked of senior teams, so one must hold them to account to ensure that there is consistency across the school. One must not be attacking each teacher and saying, "Look, you haven’t done it in your classroom." If they have not done it, it is because it is not coming from above. You have to hold the senior team to account for that consistency, because consistency is everything-if you do not have it, you do not have anything.

Q235 Neil Carmichael: I will ask a few questions about curriculum and teaching methods, but before I do so, I want to ask Katharine a question. You have put great emphasis on keeping the leadership and management of the school accountable. I was impressed by that, but who is going to do it? Can governors do it? Is governance the right sort of structure? Who else would it be? If it were to be governors, how would you strengthen it?

Katharine Birbalsingh: No, it cannot be governors. I suppose I am thinking of an equivalent to Ofsted-of some sorts of inspectors popping in every now and again and talking things through. That does not mean that they need to come in wielding an axe, but they need to ask the right questions. They need to ask questions of the senior team and then ask the same ones of staff to see whether they tally up. If they do, that is fine-you know that there is consistency. They would be looking to see whether there is consistency in the systems and whether there are systems, both to support the teacher when the behaviour happens and to create an environment in which children can learn. That is what they should have as their focus and they need to be asking questions of everyone to see whether consistency is there.

Q236 Neil Carmichael: So you are looking for a pretty rigorous and persistent inspection regime.

Katharine Birbalsingh: That is the word-persistent. How are they persistent? How are they relentless? Senior teams must be relentless and the teachers must be relentless with their love of learning in order to empower everyone in the school to move that school forward. Those inspectors-or whoever it is-would come in and ask about that. They need to be looking for relentlessness, persistence and consistency-and they rarely are. That in-house variation is something that all schools struggle with. That should be what everyone is looking at, and they are not-they are looking at things such as "community cohesion" and nonsense.

Q237 Neil Carmichael: Those matters will be dealt with, but I have got your point. I am not entirely sure that an inspection regime is the right instrument, but we will work on that.

On curriculum teaching methods, we need to tease out an answer on mixed-ability classrooms. May we have a one-liner from each of you about the wisdom of having those, in connection with discipline?

Tom Trust: I have always opposed the notion of mixed-ability teaching, which is very much more difficult than teaching a streamed class. It is very much a matter of-almost-belief or faith, but I do not go with it at all.

Daisy Christodolou: Perhaps for certain subjects, but on balance, no.

Paul Dix: When you have high quality teachers, mixed-ability teaching raises achievement and results-done it, seen it, proved it. You can look at the evidence and see that when you have poor quality teaching, setting and streaming make it easier to cope with behaviour. It is about the quality of your teaching staff. Good teachers will tell you that they love and enjoy mixed-ability teaching and that it raises achievement; teachers who are not quite as skilled will say that having streams is easier.

Sue Cowley: Human beings are of mixed ability. I am with Paul-it is about the skill of the teacher. It is about the joy of differentiating-of having the most able pull up the weaker ones. It is the model that I would absolutely go with-not always, not in every situation, but most of the time.

Katharine Birbalsingh: In any institution, you have a few, who are extraordinary, at the top; a few, who are struggling, at the bottom; and most people, who are ordinary, in between. The few who are extraordinary, who are at the top, might be able to cope with mixed-ability classes, but you cannot have a system that relies on everyone being extraordinary, because it will fail. If most people are ordinary, and those are most of your teachers, you must have a system that will work for them. Therefore, mixed-ability cannot work. I understand that in PE, drama and art-those kind of subjects-mixed-ability is much better for them and they prefer that, but for academic subjects mixed-ability is an absolute no.

Neil Carmichael: Mixed views there about mixed-ability.

Chair: I do not know whether that reflects their abilities or not.

Q238 Neil Carmichael: I’m not going to go into that, but-interesting stuff. The next question that we should be looking at, and you have all touched on this, is the curriculum-the management of it and what it is. First, I want to know how you think the curriculum can be used to influence behaviour, and then there is the question of managing the curriculum. There are two distinct issues, and I would like you all to have a crack at them.

Tom Trust: Starting with me, again?

Chair: No, we will start with Katharine, because that is only fair.

Katharine Birbalsingh: Okay. I was hoping that they would answer, because I wasn’t quite sure about your distinction.

Neil Carmichael: The curriculum is a curriculum: first, there is what is on it, which is what we expect children to learn about; and secondly, there is how we effectively manage the delivery of the curriculum, if you like. They are two different questions, which both need to be addressed.

Chair: Start with how important you think it is to tailor the curriculum to the needs of the pupils rather than to the results set.

Katharine Birbalsingh: Again, this is one of those complicated questions. Clearly, if you teach children things that they are interested in, they are more likely to behave. But do we then abandon Shakespeare, because they are not interested in Shakespeare?

Q239 Neil Carmichael: How do you know?

Sue Cowley: They are.

Katharine Birbalsingh: They are when you do things to get them into it. For instance, the argument is often made that black pupils will be more interested in black writers than in white writers. There is some truth in that-they will be. However, does that mean you only teach them black writing and never teach them any white writing? I don’t think so. There needs to be some kind of balance. Similarly, when you teach history, the argument is made that black pupils will be more interested in black history than in other types of history, and there is some truth in that. Does that mean you only teach them black history and do not teach them any other type of history? No, I don’t think so. You have to find a balance, which is difficult.

Being quite traditionalist, I like the move towards more traditional teaching of history and English. Having said that, there will be an impact on behaviour, because there is very much a sense in some communities that people want subjects that are taught in a certain way to be made relevant to them as such.

Sue Cowley: There are two aspects to behaviour when it comes to the curriculum. One side of it is inspiring children to want to learn and to be engaged, which is part of the deal that you have with them as a teacher. Some of my lessons start: "You will be engaged. We will be doing this crime scene. Somebody’s been murdered. We’re going to work back through the story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ from the end, where all the murders happen." But the bargain is that, in return for those inspirational and engaging lessons, we are going to read and analyse this section of the text, because, equally, children love difficult technical terms and analysis. They adore Shakespeare when it is taught in a creative way and when it is relevant to them, but also when you say to them that the language is part of the joy of it.

There does not have to be this disjoint between the traditional curriculum and the creative curriculum. It is not like that. You need a mixture of the two, with the skilful teacher in the middle managing behaviour by engaging with her pupils and knowing what’s going to turn them on, for want of a better term. She has that as a bargain with them: "You need to do this bit to access this bit, therefore you must behave."

Chair: I am not going to allow anyone else to come in on that, as we have a lot to get through. I am sorry, Paul.

Q240 Craig Whittaker: I want to ask Tom about something you said earlier. You used the example of a school where a head teacher came in and put 13 teachers on capability assessments, which demoralised them. I come from a background-before coming to this place-where a capability assessment was an incredibly positive thing in analysing people’s development and training needs. Are you saying that there may be a reluctance out there for teacher training and development from the teachers themselves, because that’s what I picked up?

Tom Trust: No. By the time you put a teacher on capability, there will already be issues about performance. Presumably they are there because they have had appraisals that raised questions about their performance. I know the standard letters that heads have to send out during the capability procedure always include rather pat phrases such as "This is a supportive thing." It isn’t supportive. If a teacher is put under capability, they are at risk of losing their job. That doesn’t cheer up many people.

Q241 Craig Whittaker: I do not agree with you, because my experience is totally different-it can be an incredibly positive thing. That brings me nicely on to teacher training. David Moore, who was here some weeks ago, told us that Marks and Spencer-I am a retailer by trade-spends more time training its staff to deal with angry customers than teachers get in behaviour and assessment training. We have already established that there is a greater need for that. What are your views on the Secretary of State’s proposals to bring ex-forces personnel into the teaching work force?

Paul Dix: What schools need are the ambition, high expectations and respect that people from the armed forces bring. But I know from experience a huge and hefty ex-special forces person who joined a school. I saw him wobbling in the staff room at lunchtime and he said to me, "How do you get these kids to behave?" Let’s train them, because they could be a huge asset, but let’s train them well and put them into primary schools. Primary schools need men teaching boys to read, and if boys can read, the behaviour problems in secondary schools start to go away. We must have boys reading before they go to secondary school, and then you will see behaviour start to improve.

When I go to modern foreign languages departments in schools, there are often behaviour issues. Why? Because the children do not understand English well enough, and we are suddenly asking them to learn another language, so they are voting with their feet. Teach children to read and get men in primary schools so that reading is not just cool-it is what happens. It is what men do. Get them leaving primary schools with the ability to read, and then you will see people who are able to access the most boring-or creative-lessons in secondary education. It is absolutely critical. Sorry, I bent the question round, but my experience brings me to that.

Q242 Craig Whittaker: So you are saying it’s a good thing?

Paul Dix: If they are trained appropriately in managing behaviour, yes. Teach for America works phenomenally well, so that model makes sense. It would be intelligent to bring that over, but let’s have them in primary schools, because we need men in primary schools.

Tom Trust: In the Department for Education business plan, it says that you want to create "new programmes to attract the best to the profession"-I have no argument with that-"including former members of the armed forces". Why single out former members of the armed forces? Why not former Members of Parliament?

Chair: Lack of discipline. We are an unruly lot.

Tom Trust: I don’t know why that was specified.

Sue Cowley: We need to be careful that we don’t look at somebody in the armed forces and think, "Well, they can discipline," because discipline in a school by its very nature is a different kettle of fish, and it would require training. You cannot court-martial a kid. The idea that you get to the end of the line-that’s it, you’re out- is not how it works in schools. The children have to go somewhere.

Q243 Craig Whittaker: So is it a good or a bad thing?

Sue Cowley: It’s fine, as long as they are trained and they understand what it is about.

Katharine Birbalsingh: When I was told on the phone about the Army, I laughed. If it is the case that in most of our schools the behaviour is very good, why are we thinking about putting the Army in our classrooms? It’s a good question.

Paul Dix: They would be in disadvantaged schools. In America, they target the communities most in need, where they do not have the quality of staff. They put the male role models in there and it works. It is proven. It works.

Q244 Craig Whittaker: Okay. Let me turn it on its head. Do schools use SEN to hide their own failings?

Sue Cowley: It’s very hard to get a kid statemented. There is a tendency, perhaps more these days, to say, "Does this child have SEN?" But the statementing process, to have somebody with a statement and extra support, is a very long and complex process. Statistically, I don’t know. Are there more children these days with special needs, or is it that we identifying them more? I don’t know.

Katharine Birbalsingh: I always talk about this excuse culture that exists, which has become part of the norm, so there is ADHD, SEBD, anger management and so on. It is through no one’s fault, because we’ve looked at why this child is misbehaving, and then see what kind of support we can bring in for him, which isn’t a bad thing-that’s a good thing to do. But then it has become so commonplace that teachers tend to think, "Well, this one has behavioural problems in this way, that one’s got ADHD, this one’s got this, and this one’s got that." Everyone has some kind of label, and no one is responsible for themselves in looking after their behaviour, because, "Well, it’s not my fault, I’ve got ADHD. It’s not my fault, I’ve got anger management." So it’s an excuse culture.

Although I think schools probably use SEN officially and hide behind it, it is less obvious or tactical in what you’re saying. It’s just more of a culture of expecting less of students because we think they’ve got this or that label. We’re always labelling everyone, as opposed to just expecting high standards of behaviour from them.

Q245 Chair: Does anyone take a different view?

Paul Dix: We need to differentiate between those children who walk the line-on some days they’re having tricky day, and other days not-and some very damaged children with severe mental health issues, with whom we should be extremely concerned, and who have huge additional needs. I think schools don’t necessarily hide behind it, but they’ve played a game. Extra funding comes with it, so you’re tempted into identifying every single possible need.

I think there’s a case for differentiating those children who are damaged and most at need, and who have medical diagnosis, and the children who, in a different situation, in another week or year, or when with a different teacher, could perform differently. Schools play the game that is laid out for them, and we’ve got to where we’ve got to because they have been doing exactly that.

Chair: I’m afraid that I will have to cut both you and the panel off on that and come to Tessa.

Q246 Tessa Munt: I would like to pick up on something. I can’t remember who said this, but one of you said we shouldn’t be relying on parents to teach behaviour. I just want to ask you questions about the fact that we’ve concentrated on consistency. If you’ve got one model in schools, where you have consistent standards that you have been set by the school, and then everything falls apart when that child leaves school and goes back to the community or home, how much emphasis should be put on work with parents and carers to deal with young people with behavioural difficulties?

Sue Cowley: I’m doing a lot with early years at the moment, and one of the things that you really notice is that by the age of three, a child can be so damaged, effectively, by lack of boundaries outside school, that right from the start, you are playing catch-up. Absolutely, if you can get things right before a child is three, when they start the educational process, it’d make a huge difference.

Q247Tessa Munt: Okay, but how do you do that? You’ve picked a child up at three, and I accept that absolutely. What do we do?

Sue Cowley: I think it’s great to have the emphasis on early years, that more two-year-olds are being funded to have more time in an environment where people are skilled at handling them, and that more workshops are set up for parents. There is patchy provision for parents, but I don’t think there’s consistent provision around the country where they have access to the kind of training we’re talking about that is given to teachers. I’ve done it for parents as well, so there is that.

Daisy Christodolou: I worry slightly, in that sometimes I think that these things might seem a bit intrusive. I am a teacher, and not a parent. There are standards of behaviour that you want in school and in class, but I don’t want to tell a parent how to do their job. I worry over that. I think it is a sensitive issue.

Paul Dix: Where it works best, you have key workers who work with that family and follow it, and the family has a consistent connection with that key worker throughout that child’s period of need. Early intervention works well, but we could go on for years and years blaming parents. That’s an easy thing to do, and I think it’s very difficult to solve those entrenched problems in families. Why don’t we concentrate our resources on where they’re most effective, which is establishing good order and behaviour in schools, and targeting some of those families, but not pretending that we can suddenly have national parenting teaching? Parents don’t buy into it. You put on behaviour management meetings and so on, but parents don’t get their parenting from training sessions; they get it from the telly, their neighbours, tradition or culture. It is easy to divert responsibility on to parents, but what we need to do is to set the standards in schools first, and then work outwards, rather than try to change what is coming in-that is the wrong way around, for me.

Tessa Munt: Can I go to Tom and then to Katharine, because Tom was frowning?

Tom Trust: Early years is way outside my experience because I am a secondary school teacher. I was frowning because I remember having a discussion with a head teacher about 30 years ago in which he told me that we shouldn’t be telling parents what to do. I disagreed with him in the sense that if we don’t set standards in school, and standards are not being set at home, the child is lost. That was my view 30 years ago. Schools are quite entitled to set standards of behaviour, but I am thinking in terms of secondary schools, whereas your interest is more in early years in this line of questioning.

Tessa Munt: I’m interested in the whole lot.

Tom Trust: As a general rule, and to state the obvious, the most difficult children generally have the most difficult parents. Head teachers who are dealing with very difficult children-perhaps where there is a question of whether a child will be excluded-find themselves talking to difficult and unco-operative parents.

Q248 Pat Glass: Moving on to the Government’s proposals on discipline and behaviour, a ministerial statement has been issued that sets out new measures to tackle behaviour. Ofsted is telling us that we don’t need new measures to tackle behaviour and that teachers know what they can do, that restraint is perfectly legal, and that it is actually parents and pupils who don’t understand what powers teachers have. What is your comment on that? Do we need new powers, or is it that not enough people know what the powers currently are?

Paul Dix: If head teachers are asking for additional powers because of their particular circumstances, I think we should be prepared to give them to them. It would be disproportionate to give powers of restraint to every school and every schoolteacher. Perhaps we should be targeting the areas where that is an issue. Compelling trouble-making parents to take responsibility for their children is an intelligent idea, and giving head teachers power is absolutely what they want and need. We have already talked about what head teachers are crying out for, and that is the training and the tools to do the job properly.

Q249 Pat Glass: So it is the training rather than the additional powers.

Paul Dix: If head teachers want these new measures and they are asking for them, we should of course give them to them. But I think that teachers would say that what they want is joined-up management and decent training.

Tom Trust: I wouldn’t argue with the need for some extra powers, but what teachers need more is reassurance about what they can do, because they are a beleaguered profession.

A particular point that worries me is the idea of repealing the legislation that requires schools to give parents 24 hours’ written notice of detentions, although I know that that is qualified. Having taught in a rural areas, I know that there are implications for such places. It was all right when I was at school in London because I could be kept in just like that and get a later bus.

On being able to restrain pupils, training is necessary where restraint is necessary. I notice that it refers to not letting children leave the classroom. Unions have been advising for years that you shouldn’t stand in a pupil’s way if they try to leave. I have always ignored that as a teacher. I have always taken the view that a child can only leave my classroom if they walk over me. I have survived to retire. I have always felt that it sends the wrong message to children if you let them do what they want, quite honestly.

Daisy Christodolou: Yes, I agree with that. With a lot of the rules, it comes down to the message that they send, as opposed to whether they are enforced or not. For example, on whether you can search kids’ bags, if I didn’t know a pupil’s name, I would ask them to give me their planner. If they refused, there was deadlock. The issue of this law came up on 7 July and I discussed it with my class. It’s not particularly that I want to search a pupil’s bag, but if there is a law and the school has the power to do so, it sends a message. That’s what I like about it. That message does get through to kids, and it makes them think.

Chair: Thank you all very much indeed for your evidence this morning. It’s been tremendous, enjoyable and informative.

Examination of Witness

Witness: Nick Gibb MP, Minister of State for Schools, Department for Education, gave evidence.

Q250 Chair: Good morning, Minister. Thank you very much for joining us this morning after that excellent panel, which I know you listened to. If I may, I will start with the question that I asked the previous panel. What is the one thing that the Government can best do to improve behaviour and discipline in our schools?

Mr Gibb: We need to trust and support our teachers. That is the key thing. That came out of the evidence session that we’ve just heard, and it came out when I read the evidence you took in earlier sessions. Teachers need to be supported by their head teachers, and both head teachers and teachers need to know that they have the support of the Department for Education and the Government.

The other thing that came out this morning was having systems in place. I have visited a lot of schools over the past five and a half years, and the schools that have the most successful behavioural policies are those that have very clear systems in place. For example, Oakgrove school in Milton Keynes has a member of the senior management team walking the corridors with a mobile phone, every teacher has a mobile phone, and if there is any disruption in class they pick up the mobile phone and call the assistant head, who comes to the class and takes the child away. A consistent, well-established series of events happens at that school. There are no behavioural problems, and the mobile phones are rarely used.

Q251 Chair: But you’ve described, Minister, what you’d like. You haven’t particularly described how the Government are going to bring that about.

Mr Gibb: We have set out very clearly that we want to give teachers and head teachers the powers and support that they need. For example, on 7 July, I announced that we would clarify and strengthen guidance on the use of force and on search powers, and that we would remove the statutory notice for 24-hour detention.

Q252 Chair: But Minister, some people have welcomed that and have said that it would be a useful power that they could use appropriately in rural areas, or otherwise as they saw fit-hopefully they would tailor it sensibly-but no one has said that the powers are the issue. All they’ve said is that this consistent picture needs to be made to happen in more schools. What are you going to do to make that happen?

Mr Gibb: That’s about spreading best practice. It’s about having Ofsted focus its inspections, and instead of focusing on 17 different issues focusing on four: teaching, attainment, leadership, and behaviour and safety. We can send them a clear message that we as a Government regard tackling behaviour as a key priority and can have Ofsted focus its inspections on that. That will, I think, send a clear message to schools and head teachers.

Q253 Chair: But the previous Government saw behaviour as a key priority, and good practice has been recognised and is fairly commonly shared, and yet it doesn’t happen. It is still not clear how you are going to bring it about in a way that the previous Government didn’t.

Mr Gibb: Well, don’t underestimate the importance of the powers that we’re talking about. We have done a research exercise over the past few months into why teachers don’t use the powers that they have. There is a lot of uncertainty out there. They don’t know what their powers are. They don’t know how to use them. One of the reasons for that is that the guidance that is sent out to schools runs to 500 pages for behaviour and nearly another 500 pages for bullying. With the best will in the world, this guidance is not read by teachers. So, we have engaged in a very extensive exercise of slimming down that guidance to 20 or 30 pages, and we hope to be able to release it over the next few weeks and months.

Q254 Bill Esterson: In the previous session, we heard mixed evidence on the level of behaviour in schools. My experience of schools that I go into is that behaviour is pretty good on the whole. So, isn’t the challenge to focus on those schools where behaviour is an issue, rather than on a much wider approach? To pick up Paul’s point, is the challenge to ensure that there is consistency in all schools?

Mr Gibb: Yes, but Ofsted says that more than one in five schools have behaviour that is only satisfactory or inadequate. That is 677 secondary schools in the country. If you speak with the unions, ATL says that 40% of teachers have faced physical aggression in that academic year. There are problems and they need to be spread on a system-wide basis. It is not only about focusing on a minority of schools. Having said that, one of the key objectives of this Government is to close the attainment gap between the wealthiest and poorest backgrounds. Children from the lowest socioeconomic group are eight percentage points more likely to be engaged in poor behaviour and they disproportionately attend schools with poor behaviour. We need to make sure that, in a fair and just society, we tackle those weaker schools on behaviour.

Q255 Bill Esterson: Sure. We have heard about the Steer report. What would stop you implementing those recommendations?

Mr Gibb: Many of Alan Steer’s recommendations will be incorporated in our policy. If you don’t mind being a little patient for the White Paper that is about to be published, he has a series of principles that we agree with, and I think that you will find that a number of his recommendations are reflected in our approach to policy. He talks about consistency, school leadership, rewards and sanctions, behaviour strategies, staff deployment, pupil support systems, liaison with parents, managing pupil transition and organisation and facilities. Who can disagree with that approach to behaviour? It is about turning those general principles into concrete policy, which I hope that you will see in the White Paper.

Q256 Damian Hinds: Good morning, Minister. I want to point back to early years. It seems to have been a consensus among economists for a number of years that the marginal million pounds is best spent in early years, partly because of the knock-on impact it has on behaviour, discipline, reading and all those other things that affect children further down the line. We have had Sure Start for a number of years and there are soon to be extensions to it in a couple of different ways. I wondered what your view is on the effectiveness of the Sure Start model in the UK.

Mr Gibb: It can be effective, but it does need to be targeted better at those parents and families who have particular difficulties. That has been my colleague Sarah Teather’s objective and that is what I hope the Clare Tickell review will look at, as she examines the early years foundation stage. Going a little up the age range to reception and the first years of primary school, I do think that reading is very important. It came out in this morning’s evidence session as well as in evidence sessions earlier on in your deliberations, which I have read, that reading is very important. It is not only reading per se, but the frustration at not being able to read by the time a child reaches secondary school, which can lead to disruptive behaviour. Our policy on synthetic phonics, and ensuring that every six-year-old has mastered those basic decoding skills, is very important when it comes to behaviour policy.

Q257 Damian Hinds: More generally on early identification and early intervention programmes, we have taken evidence from a number of different people and even seen a couple of people who have told us about a brilliant thing that is going on here and a brilliant thing that is going on there, but when you ask how they came up with it, there is always a different route. What is the Government’s plan for amassing the intelligence on what works best in what context, with who and how and so on? How do you make sure that it is disseminated and that you get best practice without stifling the innovation, the diversity and the localism, which is quite often the strength that you find in those brilliant things?

Mr Gibb: Two things to say. First of all, we want to wait to hear what Graham Allen has to say in his review, which is important. You make a good point about spreading best practice. Please wait for the White Paper, where we will be discussing how we disseminate that best practice. The evidence that is out there sometimes does not get down to the classrooms. It is about disseminating best practice, and having websites and easy access to material through some sort of directory. That is the right approach. It must not be top down. We have to move away from the top-down approach to policy-the prescriptive approach-which stifles innovation and can be very demoralising for teachers. I’m talking about the lever arch files that arrive every two weeks and are plonked on a teacher’s desk, but then lie unread and undermine morale. Those days are over, as far as we’re concerned.

Q258 Damian Hinds: Does that imply that the guidance given on the early intervention grant will be quite broad in terms of how it can be used? Also, what potential do you see with that and more generally for increasing reliance on payment by results and how would you measure results?

Mr Gibb: Payment by results is a good approach when you want to buy in services from other, third sector organisations, but we are trying to move away from ring-fenced grants for specific purposes. A lot of the grants in the past have been subsumed into the baseline of schools, and that is the right approach, but on the specifics, just wait, please, for the White Paper.

Q259 Damian Hinds: We talked a little in the last session about Troops to Teachers and we had someone here from Teach First. It’s interesting that whenever you talk about the American Troops to Teachers programme, there is an explicit recognition that it had a lot to do with getting men into primary schools and specifically black men into primary schools. In this country, how explicit will we be about trying to get more men into primary schools?

Mr Gibb: That is a problem. Only 15% of teachers in primary schools are men, and 28% of primary schools have no male teachers at all. As you indicated earlier, particularly when children are from families in which there is no male role model and they then go to schools where there is no male role model, it can be a problem. I think there is a case for encouraging into the teaching profession people who have had experience in all walks of life, including the military, because they bring something extra to our education system.

Q260 Damian Hinds: Let’s move on to teacher training. Paul Dix mentioned that we had got rid of the cane in schools and replaced it with precisely nothing, but there are various tricks of the trade, and various people have given evidence to the Committee and brought up specific things such as "Don’t repeat a question"-if you repeat a question, the child gets used to the idea that they don’t have to listen to other people talking-"Don’t talk over children," and so on. To what extent do you see the place for learning about those things as being in initial teacher training, or does it have to be in continuing development and on-the-job training? If it’s the former, how much does initial teacher training have to be changed to make more space for learning those techniques?

Mr Gibb: We are reviewing the QTS standards, and I think that’s very important. There should be greater focus on those behavioural management techniques, but as Alan Steer pointed out in one of the sessions, continuing professional development is important; learning these things in the school is important. That’s why we also want greater focus on graduates-people coming into the teaching profession-learning in schools, in school-centred initial teacher training.

Q261 Damian Hinds: It struck me when Sue Cowley was speaking earlier that a lot of what she was saying about the way you interact with and tailor your approach to individual children means that it probably is rather difficult to teach to a teacher, as it were, in a systematised way. You would have to learn more from observing other teachers and a bit from trial and error. Is there more of a role for buddying and that sort of thing even after initial teacher training?

Mr Gibb: I think so. If you talk to experienced teachers and the trade unions, they say that what matters with CPD is not going off on some course, but sitting down with other teachers-more experienced teachers perhaps-in the school and reflecting on their own experience and observing good teachers in the school to see how they manage poor behaviour, how they manage to teach physics or whatever.

Q262 Damian Hinds: Finally, on the issue of ongoing support, particularly in terms of special educational needs and identification of them, the National Strategies inclusion development programme is said to be useful in helping teachers to identify the causes of poor behaviour. With the end of National Strategies, how do you plan to plug that gap to ensure that that ongoing support remains in place?

Mr Gibb: Early identification is very important, and that’s what things such as our screening test at six are designed to achieve, because a child who hasn’t managed to master the simple decoding techniques for words may well have other needs as well. We need to make sure through the ITT that teachers do have training, not necessarily in how to teach every single special need that there is, but at the very least in being able to identify that there is a need there. They can then call in the specialist to address it. Things like dyslexia are needs that do need to be identified very early.

Q263 Lisa Nandy: I want to ask you about your decision regarding no-notice detention. Do you consider that decision to be fair to children who have caring responsibilities at home?

Mr Gibb: This isn’t a prescriptive policy-"You shall not give a detention without 24 hours’ notice." This is a permissive power that says that if you do not wish to give 24 hours, as a school, you do not have to. Schools are public bodies and as a public body they have to behave reasonably, so I don’t believe that any school would-well, any school would simply not be permitted to-act unreasonably in giving a detention to a child who has caring needs, or who lives, as was pointed out by Tom Trust, in the middle of a rural area with transport problems. Of course, those schools will take the appropriate measures, but do you think it is right for the House of Commons to pass a law telling a school how to run detention? It does seem extraordinary. We need to get away from this prescriptive approach to our schools.

Q264 Lisa Nandy: I’ve worked with young people who have caring responsibilities for several years. One of the most striking features about that is that they are often very reluctant to tell people-friends, peers, teachers, anybody-about what’s going on at home. So my question for you is, if you’re expecting schools to behave reasonably, how can those schools behave reasonably if they simply don’t know that those young people have those responsibilities?

Mr Gibb: Well, perhaps they ought to know. If a school decided to give a no-notice detention to a child who had these responsibilities, and it did prove a problem, so the child simply left, it would soon become clear to the school that that child had other issues. I think most schools are aware of these issues. I think we have to trust professionals who run our schools-trust the head teachers, trust the teachers. They are professional people, and I believe they know what they are doing in running a school. What we have to do-certainly the approach of this Government-is to liberate them to run the schools as they see fit, and not always to prescribe every dot and comma on when and how they can run detentions and how they can run their schools.

Q265 Lisa Nandy: I understand that, Minister, and I know that that’s the direction that the Government have said they want to take, but obviously there are a couple of really key issues there. One is that schools tend not to know about those issues, and if they don’t know then they won’t be able to behave responsibly. That will cause extreme damage for that young person who then is sitting at school thinking "I’ve got a mother"-or a father or a younger sibling-"who is in desperate need at home, and here I am completely trapped." And it will cause issues for the school as well, because the school will be failing in its responsibility to that young person without ever having known about it.

Mr Gibb: It won’t just be the detention issue that will be a problem for that child. It will be a whole range of issues. I would hope and expect that the issue would have arisen and come to the notice of the school before the first detention was made. For example, issues of homework being completed, and a whole host of other issues, should have come to the attention of the school before that time.

Q266 Lisa Nandy: I understand you’ve had conversations with organisations that represent young carers. Are they supportive of the approach?

Mr Gibb: We are engaged with a carers strategy and we do want to have a better identification. I have not met the carers people yet, but I will do soon, in due course.

Q267 Lisa Nandy: You will commit to doing that.

Mr Gibb: I will do so.

Q268 Lisa Nandy: Will you talk to them very seriously about whether this is in fact a good idea? Because I put it to you that there are serious concerns about the impact on that group of children and young people, quite apart from the other groups that we heard about in the earlier session.

Mr Gibb: I understand the argument, but the key is identifying who these children are, and it’s not just the issue of detention that makes that important. We do want to ensure that all schools are able to identify those children who have these kinds of responsibilities at home. These measures do have the support of teachers, and some of the teaching unions, though not all, support them.

Q269 Ian Mearns: On the back of that, Minister, I think overnight I heard a report that there are four times as many youngsters who have these caring responsibilities in their own home than previously thought, and we’ve got to find out the evidence for that. It seems to me that you’re implying that for those youngsters who have those responsibilities we should take a differential approach to the general school population. Yet in earlier evidence, people have said consistency in disciplinary matters is most important. So which one are we going to have-consistency or differentiation?

Mr Gibb: They are not incompatible. I think it was Sue Cowley who said in the earlier session you have to be flexible when it comes to the particular needs of particular children. What consistency means is that when you speak out in the wrong way, or swear at a teacher, you know that the following will happen, regardless of which teacher is taking the class. That is what consistency means-there are systems in place, as Katharine Birbalsingh pointed out, that will automatically kick into place when poor behaviour happens. That will apply to all the children in the school, including those who have special needs, difficult home lives or caring responsibilities. But when it comes to things like detention or the completion of homework, of course you have to take into account the home lives and the responsibilities of those children-schools do do that.

Q270 Lisa Nandy: A number of organisations have said to us that they consider the response that you have, essentially, given us, which is that you want schools to be able to discover those things, is putting the cart before the horse. I urge you to take that very seriously when you talk to those organisations.

I want to ask you one further question. We have heard very little support for another proposal from the coalition, to end the right to an appeal against permanent exclusion to an independent panel. Can you tell the Committee whether you still intend to go ahead with that measure?

Mr Gibb: What we are concerned about is the circumstance in which a head teacher expels or permanently excludes a pupil-for example, for carrying a knife or for attacking another pupil or a teacher. That child is then excluded, there is an appeal and, as a result of the appeal, the child comes back to the school. When that happens, it undermines the authority of the head teacher and the teacher. It is an unacceptable state of affairs. You will have to wait until the White Paper next week, please, but when we were devising our policy, that was one of our key priorities.

The other thing that we wanted to ensure happened was that the child being excluded was being excluded fairly. We need to make sure-this is the imperative that led to the establishment of the independent appeal panels-that a capricious decision cannot happen when it comes to excluding a pupil permanently from a school. We need to make sure that pupils who have committed a serious offence within the school don’t come trotting back into school, undermining the head teacher’s authority.

Q271 Lisa Nandy: It seems strange because Sir Alan Steer’s report came out very strongly against the sort of measures that you seem to be indicating will be in the White Paper next week.

Mr Gibb: There are differing views on a range of issues, of which that is one. We agree with much of what Sir Alan Steer has said. For example, on setting by ability or children sitting in a seating pattern in a classroom-all these are good practice, and we support his 10 principles, but on that one issue we disagree.

Q272 Chair: So are you planning to have some form of internal right of appeal? You said that you wanted to stop capricious decisions, but that is impossible-the only way that you can stop capricious decisions is to have some mechanism by which to correct them.

Mr Gibb: Again, patience-I have set out the issues that were concerning us, which are about ensuring that head teachers have-

Chair: I’ll take that as a reassurance that you agree with my analysis.

Q273 Lisa Nandy: May I ask you one last question, Minister? I am concerned, in light of your answer to the previous question, that there are not sufficient safeguards in the measures you are pressing ahead with for some of the most vulnerable children. Will there be safeguards for the most vulnerable children in the system that you are proposing?

Mr Gibb: Of course, the driver behind all our policies is to help children from difficult backgrounds, and the most vulnerable are our key priority. We want to close the attainment gap for children from poorer families and between children with special needs and those that have no special needs. That is an overriding objective of this Government, so you can be assured that every policy that you see in the White Paper will have built within it safeguards to protect the most vulnerable.

Q274 Neil Carmichael: We’re all looking forward to the White Paper, that’s for sure.

I want to test this question of accountability, which we discussed in the evidence session when looking, for example, at the role of head teachers and leadership. You emphasised that a moment ago. You have also said that you don’t want a top-down approach, which is consistent with the coalition Government. So, how do we hold head teachers and leadership to account? Are we going to look at Ofsted and look at that as an instrument, even if it does narrow down to four areas? Or should we be strengthening governance? What mechanism do we have in mind to enforce this issue of accountability?

Mr Gibb: It’s a good question and the answer is all of the above. Ofsted is very important, which is why we want to focus inspections on those four key areas, which are teaching, attainment, leadership and behaviour and safety. On the results of the school-its attainment levels-we want to ensure that the published results, or league tables if you like, don’t have built within them perverse incentives for children to be put in for the wrong qualifications. And of course, the whole structural reform process, of allowing new schools to enter the system-the academies programme-is all about giving parents genuine choice. It’s accountability to parents rather than Government that matters and opening up the school system so that increasingly-not immediately, because this is a big capacity issue-parents will have a genuine choice in where they can have their children educated. That is the most powerful of all the accountability measures. They will look at all kinds of issues as well as exam results, such as behaviour. In the Department, we want to get the information that we have about schools out there. It should be available to the public to look at; it shouldn’t just be sitting on computer discs for Ministers.

Q275 Neil Carmichael: The other question relates to the curriculum, which we have talked about; the kind of curriculum that we will be seeing is going to be slightly different and you have announced some plans already. The key is how that will be sure to engage the pupils, and whether it will be something that we can be confident will help disciplinary and behavioural issues in schools.

Mr Gibb: What’s important when you devise a curriculum-and again, we will be announcing the details in due course-is that it will deliver the education that our young people need in this country for the modern world. We need a well-educated society. There will be things in the curriculum that are challenging, difficult, and not necessarily fun or immediately interesting, which is what education is about. That is why it is called an academic discipline because sometimes, it’s hard. Learning long division, or tables, or learning to read is hard, but once you can read and you’ve mastered that basic skill, it’s a joy for children to read books. I feel very strongly that-and this evidence was in some of your earlier sessions-if children can’t do things, that is a cause for them to start to misbehave. I think we all would if we were in an environment where we were expected to be able to do something but we hadn’t learned how to do it and were struggling. It makes people misbehave and be disruptive, and that’s what we have to tackle.

Q276 Neil Carmichael: So, higher standards and improved teaching are obviously the solution, and we would all agree about that. In a sense, what we are saying is that the ethos and overall feeling of the school is really the key driver for improving behaviour.

Mr Gibb: Yes. We must have high expectations of all children in our schools. I don’t think we should take the view that we need to make our curriculum easier in order to raise the standards of behaviour; it should be the other way round. We need to raise standards of behaviour right across the board, so that children can learn more and schools can deliver a challenging curriculum. That will equip our young people to compete in a very competitive global environment in which emerging countries are educating generations of graduates to very high standards and where school leavers are highly educated. In a global world, where jobs are also now global, we want our young people who are educated in this country to have a good chance of competing for those jobs and that business.

Q277 Chair: How do you stop you yourself from ending up as a bit of a Gradgrind? Isn’t this relentless focus on standards and measurable outcomes taking the enjoyment out of teaching and the joy out of learning in too many cases?

Mr Gibb: Why do you say that? What is there not to enjoy in teaching a child to read effectively and to see the joy they have in reading book after book throughout primary school, or in a child grasping some of the complexities in the physics curriculum? That’s what education is about and most teachers have come into the teaching profession to teach their subject. We need to liberate them to enable them to do that.

Q278 Charlotte Leslie: My swimming coach used to say, "No pain, no gain." I think it may be something we’ve forgotten to tell young people. The best achievements and the best things come after you’ve worked quite hard to do them. That’s my little contribution.

Chair: Who’s next?

Q279 Charlotte Leslie: Thank you, Chair. I’m going to ask about exclusions. I was very interested in what Lisa had to say about children who have caring responsibilities. I was very shocked by what you said-that no one at the school actually knows-because I think it’s absolutely vital that in our policy we take care of the most vulnerable. To what extent do you think that structures such as 24-hour detention and structural safeguards have removed the feeling of responsibility from the teachers for their own interaction with their pupils, and their own understanding and professionalism towards their pupils, towards simply depending on a very crowded structured basis where children just move through a mincemeat machine of structural safeguards? Do you feel that the removal of some of these safeguards or structures would re-emphasise to teachers that it’s their professional duty to understand and know their children, which surely must be the basis of good learning?

Mr Gibb: Talking to teachers, I think they feel that the balance between rights and responsibilities between adults and children-pupils and teachers-has shifted, or the perception has shifted, too far towards the pupil. So you will get children saying, "I know my rights, miss. You can’t touch me," or "You can’t keep me here." I think that does undermine the confidence of teachers. The message we want to send out is that you do have those rights, and we’re going to clarify them so that you yourself are clear that you have those rights.

Q280 Charlotte Leslie: Do you want to move responsibility? In good schools that I go to, I know that the teachers have a very personal relationship with their pupils. The pupils that you see feel that there’s someone there for them. In my view-I don’t know what the caring organisations would say to this-that is by far the best way of dealing with children with caring responsibilities, because it’s not just the detention that’s going to be an issue but all sorts of other things. How do you foster, through political structures, an atmosphere where teachers take a professional personal responsibility towards the children they’re teaching?

Mr Gibb: It’s a difficult thing to do in a top-down way, but that pastoral care is what happens in the best schools. The best schools have huge extra-curricular activities. No one has required them to have those extra-curricular activities, but all those things-good pastoral care, good extra-curricular activities-lead to higher standards in the schools. That’s what we need to try and foster. It’s our belief that the way you foster that is to take away the bureaucracy and impositions from the centre that stifle innovation and crowd out teachers’ time.

Q281 Charlotte Leslie: Does it stifle compassion as well?

Mr Gibb: I think it probably does. If you are a teacher faced every two weeks with a new missive arriving from the Department for Education or one of the arm’s-length bodies telling you that there’s a new approach to doing this and that, it does undermine your morale and take up time that you could be spending on dealing with a child’s needs.

Q282 Charlotte Leslie: Moving on-sorry for that excursion-to exclusions and academies, there’s quite significant evidence to suggest that academies use both fixed-period and permanent exclusions more than local authority schools. First, do you think this is the case? Secondly, is it of concern? Thirdly, does it put an excessive burden on those local authority schools that remain, which are left with the more difficult children?

Mr Gibb: I think you’ll find that the figures show that over a period, they don’t exclude more than maintained schools. What does tend to happen in schools in very challenging areas is that a new head teacher comes in-that can happen in the maintained sector or in a new academy-and, wishing to establish, might make his mark on the school by establishing new behavioural policies and bringing in a new uniform and a new approach. They can exclude a large number of pupils in those early years, but once the good behaviour is established, those exclusions fall off. What does concern us is that there are 300,000 fixed-period exclusions every year, and 20% of young people who are excluded are excluded three times or more in a year. That’s a worry. We have to tackle that.

Q283 Charlotte Leslie: That was my second question, really. What sort of scrutiny will you be using to make sure that schools aren’t overusing fixed-period exclusion? Is there anything you will be doing? You don’t want to be top-down.

Mr Gibb: One of the reasons, of course, is that head teachers are deterred from excluding permanently, and that’s why we’ve seen a decline in those figures and a significant rise in temporary exclusions. But what good practice around the country shows is that early intervention-not in the sense of very young children but when problems are identified in secondary schools and specialists are brought in before the children get to the point at which they are going to be excluded-is the right approach. There are lots of examples of shared expertise, of using the expertise of those in the third sector who are experienced in helping children with behavioural problems. Spending a day a week with the London Boxing Academy for example, or any of these organisations, can turn the children around.

There is a very good example in Horsham of a virtual PRU. Four secondary schools use a non-maintained special school that specialises in behavioural policy, and young people who are in danger of exclusion go to that school a couple of days a week to do photography and things that interest them, and that addresses their behavioural problems. That is the kind of imaginative approach that we need to see in our schools.

Q284 Charlotte Leslie: As the local authority, under what we imagine might appear in the White Paper, becomes less of a player-less of a provider-in the school landscape, do you think that that will be detrimental, or will it be an opportunity for the better provision of alternative provision, which hasn’t been great?

Mr Gibb: No. Again, you’ll have to wait for the White Paper, but I think that we do need to harness that vast pool of expertise and experience that lies in the third sector. We also need to look at what’s happening in the best PRUs. Ofsted has graded 69% of them as "good" or "outstanding", but that does mean that a whole bunch are not, which is a worry. I think that something like one in five of them are graded as "outstanding." So, we need to harness that experience, and the experience of the third sector, and bring that expertise into schools.

Q285 Charlotte Leslie: Will anything replace the kind of structural support that the local authority provided? I want to think about behaviour partnerships between schools. Will anything replace that, or will schools be expected to simply replicate it through professionalism? If so, and if they don’t, will there be any measures to ensure that there isn’t a vacuum left where once a local authority was?

Chair: We’ll come on to partnerships in a minute. Minister, if you could answer on the other issue.

Mr Gibb: Very early on, the Secretary of State established a ministerial advisory group of people from local government and the education world to look at what the structure of a post-academies world would be like. A lot of the ideas that you’re talking about have been deliberated on in that discussion, and some of the conclusions from that group are in the White Paper, which you’ll have to wait for, but not for very long.

Q286 Chair: When will it be out?

Mr Gibb: Very soon. Very soon, indeed.

Chair: You can’t tell us precisely when.

Mr Gibb: Very soon.

Q287 Craig Whittaker: A lot of people have written in to the Committee about the requirements for schools to join behaviour and attendance partnerships. Birmingham City Council’s behaviour support service said that it regretted the Government’s decision to remove that requirement, and argues that allowing "schools to ‘opt out’ of working with neighbouring schools and local youngsters will lead to additional pressure on a smaller number of schools, a fractured education system and more pupils out of school as a result of exclusion. Pupils need to remain the shared responsibility of all in a locality." Is it right?

Mr Gibb: You don’t need to force people into partnerships. The best partnerships are voluntary. In one of the earlier sessions, you had Sue Bainbridge, and I jotted down what she said. She said: "in places such as Bradford, where they have a really strong partnership and operate in three different clusters. They have engaged in those partnerships because they wanted to and not because anyone told them to." So you do have to trust professionals, and we are moving into a world in which we are going to be trusting schools, teachers and head teachers and taking away statutory requirements to do things such as that. But I believe that people will want to work together as professionals. In addition to that, of course, there is the Fair Access protocol in the admissions code. It is still there, and will remain. So I don’t think that just because you take away an obligation an activity won’t continue.

Q288 Craig Whittaker: I hear what you’re saying, but what about the better schools? What about the schools that have the best pupils? Are they not going to benefit by disadvantaging the schools that don’t or won’t get involved, or those that are poorer performing?

Mr Gibb: They’ll still be subject to the Fair Access protocol, which is designed to prevent all the children who have been excluded going into one particular school. My perception of the head teachers in this country, even those who run high-performing schools, is that they do not want to be an island unto themselves; they believe in working with other schools. I believe that that will continue, notwithstanding that you take away a statutory obligation.

Q289 Craig Whittaker: Let me come to the move away from reliance on the local authority. Are there any services that you think need to be provided by the local authority to allow both the benefits of economies of scale and for cases that need an urgent response?

Mr Gibb: There will always be a role for local authorities in education. For example, they need to have the role of being the champion of pupils and parents. If they look at the schools in their area and see an inadequate number of places or poor provision, they have a role in ensuring that the provision rises, by inviting in and cajoling or by encouraging new schools to be set up in the area. They will have a role in low-incidence special needs, of course. Even in a system where all schools are autonomous, schools will want to buy services. They may well buy them from their local authority or from another local authority. They might decide to form their own clusters or groups of schools to buy goods and services in a more cost-effective and economical way.

Q290 Craig Whittaker: What evidence is there to show that autonomy is what schools want?

Mr Gibb: We are persuaded by the evidence from around the world that autonomy is commensurate with high standards. The OECD has done a lot of research, and the two key features that high-performing jurisdictions around the world have in common are autonomy and clear external accountability mechanisms. That is what we’re driven by.

Q291 Craig Whittaker: Do our schools have the skill set and the capacity to undertake that role?

Mr Gibb: That’s why the academy programme has been set out in stages. We invited all schools to apply, but those that are rolling forward in the first wave are the schools that are graded by Ofsted as outstanding. We are sure that those schools have the right leadership. At the bottom end, we will be encouraging academy sponsors to come in and help the poorer-performing schools that we are not sure have the right leadership to develop.

Q292 Craig Whittaker: So with the exception of academy sponsors, what other skill-set programme will we put into schools, so that they can take on the role of being autonomous and not rely on the local authority?

Mr Gibb: What do you have in mind?

Q293 Craig Whittaker: I’m not the one who is making the policy; that is you. I am just saying that we currently have a situation in which a lot of schools are heavily reliant on local authorities. We are going to take that away and give them more autonomy. I’m not convinced-some of the evidence says that we are not convinced-that they have the skill set and the capacity to deliver that autonomy. I have asked what we will do as a Government to support the skill set and capacity raising, apart from introducing sponsors.

Mr Gibb: It’s not about taking the scaffolding away tomorrow, but about moving over a period of time to a position where schools have autonomy. Schools that we do not feel have the right leadership will not be fast-tracked to become academies. We are starting with schools that are outstanding, and we have now announced that schools that are good with outstanding features will be able to become academies. We expect all those academies to take with them, or help, a school in the local area that has poor leadership and is struggling. That is a way of getting those skills spread more evenly across the school system. The Secretary of State has also announced a doubling of the number of national leaders in education-exceptional teachers around the country who have already provided services and support to neighbouring schools or schools in other parts of the country. When they provide that support, the standards in those schools rise. It is about using the existing stock of exceptional heads to spread expertise around the school system.

Q294 Chair: Minister, have you done enough on this transition? If we’re moving from a less autonomous world that is supported by local authorities to a more autonomous world, there is a transition period in which that capability has to be grown. Have you thought about this enough and put enough support in place to allow that transition to have as few downsides as possible?

Mr Gibb: The Secretary of State has to sign off every school that becomes an academy. If he is not convinced that a school applying for academy status is capable of managing itself as an autonomous academy, he won’t sign the academy order. It won’t happen if we’re not convinced of that.

Q295 Chair: In a more autonomous world, will the responsibility for permanently excluded pupils continue to rest with the school and not the local authority?

Mr Gibb: Again, we have been deliberating on these important matters. Without wanting to sound boring, please wait for the White Paper, which will have a lot to say on those issues.

Chair: Whether it’s Monday or Wednesday next week.

Mr Gibb: It will come out very soon.

Q296 Pat Glass: In a similar vein, you said earlier in answer to a question that the Government are looking to support children from the most difficult backgrounds. I have worked with the most specialist schools in behaviour and with some of the children in those schools who have incredibly challenging backgrounds. Almost universally, those children come from homes in crisis and in the most awful circumstances. As a head teacher, I would look to bring in all the agencies that could support that child and that family-the police, child and adolescent mental health services, social care, the NHS and so on. At the moment, the local authority acts as the broker and, as I said, the school holds the ring. In your new autonomous world, who is going to replace the local authority in doing that? As the head teacher of an academy, where do I look for that support?

Mr Gibb: As you know, from next September, we are introducing the pupil premium. By 2014, that will be £2.5 billion a year. We are still consulting on how that will be allocated and on the definition of the children who will qualify for it. It will go to schools that have a high proportion of pupils such as those you are referring to, and the money will help head teachers to buy the services that you are talking about. That’s the essence of what we intend to do.

I think that head teachers want that responsibility. They don’t want to always have to pick up the phone to somebody else and tell them what to do. They want the autonomy and decision-making power to help tackle the education and special needs of those children in their care. If they don’t want to do that, they won’t want to apply for academy status.

Q297 Pat Glass: To be fair, schools have got more money now than they’ve ever had. It’s not a question of money. Giving the pupil premium will not make that happen; it is about the responsibility for pulling together and co-ordinating all those agencies. As a head teacher of an academy, is that really going to fall on me? It is not just about standards or managing my school and teachers; I will also have to manage what was previously done by the local authority.

Mr Gibb: Yes, but as a head you don’t have to do all those tasks yourself. Heads can delegate such activities to specialists. We have the targeted mental health in schools initiative, which is about bringing those specialist services into the school. It does not all have to land on the shoulders of the head teacher. Most heads want the responsibility and decision-making power to take such decisions and not have to defer to others. Most professionals respond to that very well and rise to the occasion. We want to ensure that those services are available. One thing that has come out of the evidence sessions is that there are problems with the CAMHS service and that access to it is not adequate. I take that point and share the concern. I hope that we as a Government will take those things on board. I know that the Department of Health wants to raise the importance of mental health and put it on a par with physical health in terms of health indicators. There is a seriousness about that issue in the Government. I take your comments on board, but I think that most head teachers relish the responsibility.

Q298 Pat Glass: I think we differ in that. I know thousands of head teachers as well, and I have rarely come across any who see their job as about co-ordinating the police, social care and so on. We will move on from that.

Let us take those children whose lives are not awful enough to hit the thresholds whereby agencies such as CAMHS, social care and the police would get involved. Currently, co-ordination of that would lie either with the education social work service or the education welfare services in local authorities. There is an increasing number of academies, and as they take their funding out of the local authority, we will hit a critical mass whereby local authorities will no longer be able to provide those services. In a sense, some children are not bad enough to need those strategy services. What will happen to them?

Mr Gibb: If you are talking about social services, that is a separate issue. If you are asking about the role of local authorities in a world where an increasing number of schools are academies, the ministerial advisory group established by the Secretary of State is looking at that to see what their role will be and how it is to be funded. There will always be a role for local authorities in the provision of education, and in the provision of central services. Because those services may be purchased by schools, it may be decided that local authorities will provide those services funded centrally-for example, low-incidence special needs. That is something that is being discussed at the moment with the local authorities.

Q299 Ian Mearns: We touched on CAMHS services in a previous sitting. Some people giving evidence described the current situation as nothing short of a national disgrace. There are many examples where I wouldn’t disagree. Would you consider passing responsibility for budgets and the commissioning of all children’s community health services to local authorities, in order to provide a more streamlined service to young people and their families?

Mr Gibb: In terms of mental health, this issue has now been addressed with the mental health strategy. We’ll have to wait to see what comes out of that strategy, but I share your concerns and the concerns of the witnesses that you’ve heard from in terms of access to those services.

I think it was Alan Steer who said that it was nothing short of a national scandal. We need to address it. If 10% of our young people aged five to 16-that is what the figures show-are suffering from mental health problems, it cannot be right if a teacher identifies a serious problem and tries to access the CAMHS service but finds that they can’t. That cannot be right. It is a set of circumstances that we can’t allow to continue.

Q300 Ian Mearns: On special educational needs provision, an important part of the process for young people as they are assessed is the need to see an educational psychologist. I’m sorry to say that successive Governments have got the provision of educational psychology wrong.

In training, for instance, we are currently having a massive problem in terms of the number of local authorities that haven’t been subscribing to the training programme. Prior to this, it was top-sliced, and the number of trained psychologists produced annually wasn’t enough to meet demand. We are looking at a profile of the profession that shows that we’re going to have a significant problem within a relatively short period. What do you think the Government need to do to address this problem in terms of training needs, but also on the provision of educational psychology?

Mr Gibb: This is something that the Government are looking at. It is important. I know that there has been a freeze on recruitment of educational psychologists, but you will see more on this in the special educational needs Green Paper that will be coming out fairly shortly.

Q301 Chair: What’s the update on when we can expect the Green Paper?

Mr Gibb: Fairly shortly.

Chair: Before Christmas then.

Q302 Ian Mearns: A quick question on speech and language, and communications therapy. What have you got in mind for that?

Mr Gibb: Again, it is important that we identify early children who have these problems, but you’ll have to wait for the outcome of the SEN Green Paper, which is due shortly.

Ian Mearns: On funding, Charlotte was going to ask some questions about alternative provision, but that was dealt with earlier.

Q303 Ian Mearns: On funding, Charlotte was going to ask some questions about alternative provision, but that was dealt with earlier. But in terms of that, you said earlier that you want to get away from a situation in which Polish kids perform the worst. Pat said, when asking you a question, that schools already have quite a lot of money, but the trouble with that money is that it comes through standards funds, additional educational needs funds and area-based grants. I have a funny feeling that the £2.5 billion pupil premium will absorb those grants and will not be extra to them, and that the redistribution will mean that some kids in the poorest areas will end up getting less. Could you comment on that?

Mr Gibb: Other than the area-based grant, those other grants that you have mentioned have been subsumed into the baseline of the schools funding.

Q304 Ian Mearns: Not in this financial year, they haven’t.

Mr Gibb: No, from the next financial year onwards.

Q305 Ian Mearns: So is the general schools budget going to grow by those amounts in the next financial year?

Mr Gibb: Yes, a number of grants that are currently ring-fenced will form part of the baseline for school funding. On top of that, you have the pupil premium, which is why, over the four years of the spending review, there is a real-terms increase in spending on schools.

Q306 Ian Mearns: Just to be absolutely spot-on on this, I was, until recently, the chair of governors of a secondary school in Gateshead that has something like 22% of its budget over and above age-weighted pupil unit funding through standards funds and so on. Are you saying that that is being put into the pot and added to the existing pot for the general schools budget, and that the pupil premium is on top of that?

Mr Gibb: Yes, that is correct.

Q307 Chair: Does that mean that each school’s individual budget will remain the same, or could there be a redistribution based on a new assessment of need?

Mr Gibb: It is flat cash per pupil. That is then allocated to the local authority, which then allocates it to the schools. If those local authorities decide that one particular school in the area gets all the money and there is nothing for the rest, it is a decision for the local authorities how they allocate that fund through the Schools Forum. But overall, there is flat cash per pupil and, on top of that, you have the pupil premium, so those schools that have high proportions of children who qualify for the pupil premium will have additional cash on top of the flat cash per pupil.

Q308 Chair: Is the flat cash based on the existing allocation to a local authority area?

Mr Gibb: Yes, they then allocate it to the schools.

Q309 Chair: So, just as an example, Hull will continue to receive considerably more-hundreds and hundreds of pounds more-per pupil than East Riding next door?

Mr Gibb: You are now talking about the disparities in funding between local authorities, which is something that we want to address. That is why we have been talking about, over a period, moving to the national funding formula with a view to trying to eradicate those problems. The trouble is that it will take many years before you can actually have a system that is absolutely fair between local authorities. We have inherited this system that goes back many years and is based on historic allocations. That can’t be right. It is unfair that areas such as Barking and Dagenham, with all the deprivation that they have, have much lower funding than some of the neighbouring boroughs. You also have the example of Leicester compared with Tower Hamlets. They will take a number of years to iron out.

Q310 Tessa Munt: I want to talk to you about the link between attendance and behaviour, which brings us back to the beginning of the session. The National Association of Social Workers in Education identified that the school board, as was, highlighted a range of barriers to school attendance as being poverty, mental and physical ill health, domestic violence, alcohol, drug misuse and child cruelty. It says that those indicators are equally applicable to predicting poor behaviour. Do you recognise a direct link between the causes of poor behaviour and the reasons for poor attendance in school?

Mr Gibb: I think that’s true. I cited at the beginning the fact that a child from the poorest cohort is eight percentage points more likely to engage in poor behaviour than a child with parents in the wealthier cohort. Those children are also disproportionately likely to attend a school with poor behaviour. So the question for us as policy makers is: what do we do about it? Other parts of Government are trying to address those underlying causes, but our role here is to make sure that children who come from families with poor structures at home can at least come to a school that has safe structures in place. Other parts of Government are trying to address those underlying causes, but our role here is to make sure that children who come from families with poor structures at home can at least come to a school that has safe structures in place. That is what we have to deliver as a public service.

Q311 Tessa Munt: I wonder how you envisage how you might deal with poor attendance. Are you going to take a stronger line on that? Are we slapping parents into jail, or what?

Mr Gibb: We are going to continue to monitor the numbers and have it as a priority for schools. We will continue with the current approach to attendance and use all the parenting orders and parenting contracts that exist at the moment. We are not intending to ease up on any of those issues and imperatives in terms of attendance. Schools will still be under the same pressure they are now to ensure that they have high attendance.

Q312 Tessa Munt: But the Education Welfare Service has quite a low threshold for intervention. I wonder how you envisage our moving from what is a relatively punitive approach to a problem that is based in different places. We may not, if we go back to Lisa’s point, be picking up those causes very well. I just wondered how you see the interaction between being relatively punitive to people who don’t attend and picking up those children who have a massive problem. People may wish to hide that because they may not want to have intervention, because they may see that as being highly dangerous.

Mr Gibb: It is about schools engaging in their pastoral responsibilities the best that they can-that is what it is about-and about ensuring that social services, which my colleague Tim Loughton is dealing with, have the capacity to deal with problems when they are informed about them and about a particular child from the school. You hear all too often that the social services departments of local authorities are stretched and don’t have the manpower to tackle issues, and that has to be addressed; there is no question about that. That is, again, about trying to liberate social workers from the bureaucratic burdens imposed on them, so that they have time to behave as professionals.

The common theme in this Government is about trusting professionals and liberating them to do the job that they want to do to the best of their ability, without being inhibited and stifled by having to deal with form filling and all the bureaucracy that is piled upon them. That is our approach, and I think it will be successful. If you trust professionals, liberate them and give them the time and space to do the job they love and want to do well, they will do it well. They will pick up, and then be able to focus on, these issues.

Q313 Chair: Minister, there is early intervention and there are schools, but there is another factor in the behaviour of young people in schools, which is the youth services provided outside. How are the professionals in youth work being liberated by 50% cuts and the removal, in many cases, of services that have contributed to engaging young people and helping them learn to behave, not only in schools, but outside them?

Mr Gibb: Local authorities have to fulfil their statutory functions with the resources that they have. It is a difficult time that we are living in; we are faced with a huge budget deficit of £156 billion. It is the worst in the G20, and we have had to make some very difficult decisions that we would not wish to have made.

Q314 Chair: You rightly boast of your success as Minister in protecting schools’ budgets, relatively speaking. Absolutely, but are you concerned, on the other hand, that youth work is facing what looks like pretty catastrophic reductions in service? Is that an unbalanced approach?

Mr Gibb: These are very difficult decisions that had to be taken. They were not taken lightly. We are expecting people to do more with less. A great deal of deliberation took place over the summer on how we can get more out of the limited resources that we have. We had to make some difficult decisions, and they were not taken lightly. We hope local authorities will be able to manage their budget and find savings. For example, we expect schools to deliver £1 billion overall in terms of efficiency savings through better procurement, and we will assist schools through various tools and mechanisms to help them deliver those savings. We expect the same approach to be taken by local authorities.

Q315 Chair: You didn’t directly answer my question. At the moment, however they manage it, they are facing general cuts. Youth services and youth work look to be facing catastrophic reductions. Is that a balanced approach? Do you have concerns about it?

Mr Gibb: We have concerns about any spending cuts that have had to be made. We did not come into politics, certainly not into the Department for Education, to make cuts. That has been made essential by the state of the public finances that we inherited. It is not the ideal place that we want to be in. Yes, we are concerned, of course.

Q316 Charlotte Leslie: On the back of that, do you see specific tension between devolving a lot of activity towards the third sector-the big society stuff-and the fact that a lot of those third sector organisations gain an awful lot of their funding from local authorities? There is a tension between wanting more third sector involvement and the effects of the local authority cuts, which means that there is less third sector involvement.

Mr Gibb: Yes, but we also are devolving budgets to decision makers, whether it is schools or elsewhere, who can then purchase those services. On the one hand, the local authorities are having to make some very difficult decisions themselves on how they allocate scarce resources but, on the other hand, we are giving de-ring-fencing funds that first give local authorities more flexibility but also give head teachers the power to spend money on acquiring services from the third sector, which they previously may have been required to purchase from the local authority. That flexibility will assist the third sector certainly in the long run.

Chair: Thank you very much indeed for giving evidence to us this morning.