Behaviour and Discipline in Schools

Memorandum submitted by National Strategies

1. Introduction

1.1 This paper responds to the stated terms of reference for the inquiry in sections 2 – 8 below.

1.2 Since 2003, the National Strategies’ Behaviour and Attendance programme has supported schools in improving behaviour and has sought to build schools’ capacity in relation to behaviour so they are less reliant on external support. The paper presents the views of the National Strategies and should not be read as representing the views of the current government.

1.3 The most recent Ofsted behaviour grades, based on National Strategies’ data, show 80% of all secondary maintained schools (2498) judged by Ofsted as having good or outstanding behaviour and 19% (592) rated as having satisfactory behaviour.

1.4 The number of schools judged to have inadequate behaviour is 31. This number has risen as a result of the change in the criteria used by Ofsted in September 09 when it had previously been a downward trend between 05 and 09 from 72 to 18.

1.5 Successful practice exists where the following key elements are present:

· a positive school ethos that promotes ownership and responsibility for a behaviour policy that is consistently implemented

· access to high quality teaching and learning with flexibility for personalisation to secure the engagement of all pupils

· a range of opportunities for staff to participate in relevant professional development and to network with other professionals to share best practice.

2. How to support and reinforce positive behaviour in schools

2.1 Positive behaviour in schools is most dependent on high quality teaching and learning. This significant point is recognised by Sir Alan Steer in two reports Learning behaviour: Report of the Practitioners’ Group (2006) and Learning behaviour: Lessons learned (2009).

2.2 Key issues for schools are:

· the need to address low level disruption whilst promoting and reinforcing positive behaviour;

· the need to maintain a consistent approach to improving behaviour across the whole school community;

· the need to extend understanding of what works well to all members of the school community and other agencies working with the school and/or its pupils and to foster high aspirations and expectations.

2.3 In response to these issues, our experience suggests that the most effective approaches to support and reinforce positive behaviour include:

· Strengthening the links between the quality of teaching and learning and positive behaviour - resulting in a strong alignment between school improvement, raising standards, teaching and learning and positive behaviour and engagement in policy development. All 20 lead behaviour schools identified the quality of teaching and learning as a key contributor to improving behaviour.

· Securing time and commitment to develop a positive whole school ethos, giving staff an opportunity to discuss pupil behaviour and develop a shared understanding of the principles that underpin a consistent approach, linking learning and behaviour expectations.

o A secondary school in South Gloucestershire LA, is recognised by Ofsted as an improving school, with a positive ethos and strong sense of collective responsibility amongst staff. Work on improving attainment and behaviour has been underpinned by a focus on developing the social and emotional skills of pupils with a notable positive impact on reducing the need for exclusions.

o An unpublished report on the National Strategies’ tracker school project by Dr Robin Banerjee, University of Sussex (July 10) on the impact of work to develop the social and emotional skills of pupils in 60 schools reports positive benefits. The report found that in these 60 schools social and emotional skills and school ethos were directly related to attainment and the use of this approach was linked to better quality relationships between pupils, higher Ofsted ratings for behaviour and lower levels of persistent absence.

· Focusing on a positive approach to behaviour improvement through developing a culture that celebrates success rather than one that reacts through sanctions. Pupils respond well to high expectations which are shared routinely in lessons/tutor time. On receiving an Ofsted inadequate behaviour rating, a secondary school in Surrey LA reviewed approaches to behaviour management, shifting the focus from negative sanctions to planned interventions. At its recent Section 5 inspection the school received an outstanding grade for behaviour.

· Identifying the key roles and responsibilities of senior leaders and governors to give behaviour a high profile:

‘Revisions to the roles and responsibilities within the senior leadership team have meant that senior staff have a clearer focus for their work and are more accountable for improving standards and leading improvement. This has strengthened the effectiveness of the senior leadership team’ (Extract from primary school Ofsted Report in Newcastle LA).

· Promoting visible staff role models, leading positive behaviour at all levels and at all times across the school. This includes the use of practical classroom strategies to instil staff confidence, resilience and skills to promote de-escalation and engagement. The National Strategies have developed the leadership skills of the full range of staff by using the National Programme for Specialist Leaders in Behaviour and Attendance (NPSLBA) professional development programme. From December 06, 7331 participants have followed the programme.

‘The NPSLBA helped cover supervisors to develop skills in a confident and positive manner helping them to develop strategies in dealing with different situations as they occur in the classroom’ (Assistant headteacher from a lead behaviour school in Northumberland LA).

· Using student leaders to provide good role models of mature and respectful young people. Pupils feel greater ownership of the behaviour in their schools when they are trained as pupil ambassadors, showing enormous pride and encouraging others to share responsibility for ongoing success. A secondary school in Tower Hamlets LA has adopted a student ambassador model. Pupils receive intensive training to act as school leaders and train others to use student voice to improve behaviour.

· Achieving a consistent approach and skills to monitor behaviour, measuring the impact of all planned interventions through data analysis and self-review.

3. The nature and level of challenging behaviour by pupils in schools, and the impact upon schools and their staff

3.1 Challenging pupil behaviour, in whatever form it takes, whether in inadequate behaviour schools or within particular groups in other schools, can impact on the emotional health and well-being of school staff.

3.2 From our experience, schools that are aware of the possible impact of challenging behaviour on staff absence and recruitment and retention invest resources, where possible, in professional development and staff well-being. Staff are supported to respond confidently and effectively to challenging behaviours by a positive school ethos, clear expectations, well-defined roles and responsibilities, early intervention procedures and consistency in approach.

3.3 Based on feedback from schools, there is a range of challenging behaviours of individuals and groups of pupils that demand staff responses:

· Tension emerging between pupil groups from different areas

· Verbal threats to staff and pupils

· Violence to staff and pupils

· Use of knives and potential weapons

· Drug use

· Complex and multiple behaviours such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autistic spectrum disorder (ASD).

3.4 We are prepared to discuss the challenging behaviours that have a higher profile at the oral evidence stage, if the Committee wishes, focusing on effective school responses to different types of these challenging behaviour.

4. Approaches taken by schools and local authorities to address challenging behaviour, including fixed-term and permanent exclusions

4.1 Early intervention and working in partnership with other schools, local services and the wider community to draw on local expertise and resources are of critical importance in addressing challenging behaviour, including exclusions.

4.2 For schools and LAs, challenges exist. They need to:

· get the right balance between rewards and sanctions including early intervention and exclusions;

· meet the diverse needs of pupils including those vulnerable and at risk of exclusion;

· access effective external support including from other schools.

4.3 Early intervention

An effective early intervention strategy removes the barriers to learning faced by pupils. Data analysis is essential and informs a ‘continuum of support’ which includes differentiated teaching and learning, small group work, withdrawal units and one to one support. Provision is managed by the school, supported by local agencies. One example is:

· offering a package of one hour meetings between a pastoral teacher and a pupil, focusing on self-awareness and strategies to manage feelings. For pupils involved, behaviour improved and fixed term exclusions were reduced by 60% and repeat exclusions reduced from 33% to 13% (Alternatives to Exclusion in a secondary school in Gloucestershire LA).

4.4 Working in partnership

Effective partnership working is characterised by:

· A commitment to shared responsibility to improve outcomes for pupils in a locality.

· Schools and local partners having a good understanding of pupil profiles.

· Shared expertise and resources to address the underlying causes of poor behaviour.

Examples of successful approaches are:

· collaborative working between three schools, including a PRU, inviting parents/carers to work with staff to develop skills to support their child in school and at home. Positive outcomes centred on increased confidence through strong relationships between schools and parents/carers and improved engagement of pupils in learning (Southend LA development group).

· narrowing attainment gaps for boys at KS4 by working in partnership with a local agency to improve boys’ motivation. The intervention resulted in improved attainment (60% up one grade or more in Maths; 63% increased attendance; 46% reduction in detentions; 50% reduction in fixed term exclusions) at a secondary school in Gloucestershire LA.

4.4 A key element of effective partnership-working is self-sustaining networks. These help to ensure that practice is shared, with school staff supporting each other and developing new practice by:

· Extending staff skills through outreach from alternative providers and PRUs, helping to improve behaviour and giving staff confidence to address low level disruption before it escalates.

· Supporting effective managed moves to other schools in local partnerships.

· Using permanent cover staff to reduce pupil access to unfamiliar supply staff. A secondary school in Coventry LA introduced this approach, identifying it as a key factor in receiving an outstanding behaviour grade at last inspection.

5. Ways of engaging parents and carers in managing their children’s challenging behaviour

5.1 The National Strategies promote the importance of family involvement in improving behaviour. Schools may be on the third/fourth generations of families and issues are sometimes repeated without any recognition that schools can intervene to change established patterns. Often schools have difficulty in engaging with hard to reach parents.

5.2 Schools often highlight that parents/carers lack confidence in communication with their children and organising family activities. Schools that have been successful in transforming relationships have provided opportunities for parents to become engaged in activities to support their children’s learning both at home and in school. Building the confidence of the parent/carer provides motivation for the child and enhances the relationship between families and schools, with a common purpose. Effective strategies are:

· working with parents to contribute to the development of a positive school ethos. In a lead behaviour school in South Gloucestershire LA, sessions on school ethos and social and emotional skills were offered to parents/carers resulting in improved pupil attitudes to school and better attendance, behaviour and attainment.

· providing training for parents that focuses on effective parenting and family relationships. Wirral LA ‘Family Works’ consists of a training programme for over 1000 parents each year.. Data shows that pupils whose parents attended Family Works scored, on average, 10% higher in writing and 6% higher in reading at the end of KS2 tests. Families in socially disadvantaged areas benefit most.

· engaging parents in behaviour policy review and developing classroom rules. Parents act as advocates to strengthen home school partnerships, wanting the school to improve from its last good behaviour rating (a secondary school in Oldham LA).

· developing drop-in resource/school centres for specialist advice and support for pupils and families. In a secondary school in Cornwall LA, the centre met a range of pupil needs and provided referral to multi-agency support.

· promoting the use of parenting contracts for pupils with challenging behaviour. Contracts work well when the school part of the contract involves supporting the parent/carer with strategies, skills and confidence to use the same strategies consistently at home. A secondary school in Liverpool LA used a primary support model for tutor groups in year 7.

6. The efficacy of alternative provision for pupils excluded from school because of their behaviour

6.1 Since the publication of Back on Track in 2008, the National Strategies has supported the development of alternative provision. Pupils need to view themselves as learners and in the best provision pupils indicate that staff do not give up on them. In some cases alternative provision has offered pupils the most stability and security in their school life.

6.2 Personalised curriculum planning based on knowledge of pupil needs is at the heart of effective alternative provision. A flexible combination of accredited learning opportunities in schools, PRUs, FE colleges, voluntary agencies and alternative work-based provision builds on pupil strengths, accelerating learning and engagement. Successful provision is set within a continuum that fully utilises in-school provision, local services, the voluntary sector and the community. This provision sometimes includes:

· Locality-based partnerships of schools, FE and alternative providers working together to ensure that courses available meet pupil needs and are linked to potential employment and further training. Provision and pupil progress is overseen by a lead person who monitors outcomes.

· Support teams working with vulnerable pupils during school holidays, providing transitional support on leaving school to ensure that personal stresses do not undermine ability to continue education. Wolverhampton LA has a highly skilled team of psychologists on call to support need.

· Alternative providers investing in the best staff and accessing high quality professional development such as NPSLBA. Staff skills need to be of the highest quality to focus on raising pupil achievement and re-engaging disenchanted learners. The use of assessment is strong and expectations are high, with an emphasis on building self esteem, the personal and social skills of pupils and families and celebrating success. Halton LA provides high quality CPD to alternative providers, who meet to access training and act as a support group to share skills and approaches.

· Responding to changing pupil profiles with headteachers providing feedback to the LA and alternative provider funding bodies on how flexible provision has met pupil needs.

· Alternative providers focusing on key skills in Maths and English to support reintegration into mainstream schooling when the pupil is ready.

7. Links between attendance and behaviour in schools

7.1 There are strong links between behaviour and attendance. (See appendix one).

7.2 In many schools where behaviour has improved, attendance has also improved. Pupils are more likely to attend a school with a safe, secure and calm learning environment, with a strong school ethos, where bullying is unlikely to occur.

7.3 Complementary examples of effective practice exist such as strong leadership with high expectations, a positive whole school ethos supported by a unified staff team that demonstrates consistency in approach and robust data analysis that informs and tracks the impact of interventions.

7.4 In Essex LA, education welfare officers (EWOs) took part in NPSLBA and developed school action plans for attendance as part of their workplace activity, as well as confidently-led training for schools with high levels of persistent absence, supported by personalised training materials. The training focused on improving behaviour through focused classroom strategies as well as attendance to achieve positive outcomes for pupils.

8. How special educational needs can best be recognised in schools’ policies on behaviour and discipline

8.1 The National Strategies focuses on improving outcomes for pupils with special educational needs. Elements of this work are used to support development of behaviour and discipline policies to meet pupils’ needs:

· Some staff lack the skills and confidence to meet the needs of pupils with special educational needs. It is important that the behaviour policy highlights the need for staff to analyse the cause of the behaviour as this may be due to an area of underperformance, for example, in social development of communication. The National Strategies’ Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) provides strategies for staff to support pupil needs, including behaviour and communication. Recently a year 7 nurture group at a secondary school in Hammersmith and Fulham provided additional support to pupils through CAMHS and speech and language therapists to address disengagement at year 6. With routine ongoing support in these two areas in the latter part of year 7, the pupils are now back on track.

· Most behaviour policies contain a section on rewards and sanctions to be used to improve behaviour. It is important that the behaviour policy is clear about how rewards and sanctions may be used with all pupils. As small step approaches are often used with pupils with special educational needs, they may appear to get more rewards for small outcomes and possibly also fewer sanctions for minor misdemeanours. For staff to implement the policy consistently and pupils to see the policy as fair, these flexibilities need to be clearly mapped out. In Nottingham City, the behaviour consultant and Assessment for Learning adviser worked with schools to include pupils and parents in initial behaviour policy development and ensure school representatives support pupils who may feel they have been unfairly treated.

· Learning Support units (LSUs) have a positive impact on attainment and attitudes to learning. The role of the LSU needs to be clearly defined in the behaviour policy as an area where learning needs of pupils are met. The policy should describe the function of the unit and reaffirm the role of mainstream school staff in providing a differentiated offer to pupils to meet needs in timetabled lessons. In schools where all staff spend time teaching in the LSU and where the most engaging curriculum offer is presented, the smaller pupil-staff ratio can address issues swiftly.

October 2010