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Behaviour plan credit crunched

Slashed education budgets for 2010-11 could mean proposals to tackle wayward pupils are put on ice

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Ambitious plans to help teachers manage unruly pupils and reduce truancy could be delayed until the recession has ended, it was predicted this week.

Professor Ken Reid, chair of the National Behaviour and Attendance Review, which last year made 19 key proposals tackling bad behaviour and absentseeism in its report, said an unforeseen cut in the 2010-11 education budget could limit the action taken on his recommendations.

Officials will announce their action plan in response to the proposals at Cardiff's Fitzalan High School on Monday. But TES Cymru understands the predicted budget has been cut significantly in response to the economic downturn.

Professor Reid said he had been asked by officials which proposals should be made a priority.

"When we produced the report, we envisaged working through all the core recommendations. The difficulty is we've now got the credit crunch," he told an anti-bullying conference in Cardiff last week.

The academic, who is vice-chancellor of Swansea Metropolitan University, said there was an urgent need to train Wales's teachers in tackling behaviour issues - a key recommendation of his report.

While England pumps pound;2 billion annually into a national training scheme, and its teachers receive support from national and regional behavioural consultants, Wales has no such scheme in place.

"Teachers need to be trained in behavioural management from the moment they go into teaching to stop them dropping out," said Professor Reid. "I'm not saying we need a system the same as England, but a national training scheme that works for Wales."

Professor Reid's report followed two years' evidence-gathering from 50 interest groups, including heads, teachers and pupils. The final 164-page document contains recommendations to help schools tackle bad behaviour through earlier intervention and better resources.

It also proposed new guidance on physically restraining violent pupils, recommended that local authorities should establish behavioural support teams to help schools, and said more staff should be employed to deal with children at risk of exclusion.

Researchers were amazed at the high number of excluded pupils left to roam the streets with no provision being organised by schools. But they concluded that most schools were orderly and that unruly pupils were in the minority.

The report also lamented a rise in unofficial exclusions. Under its proposals, schools with high levels of exclusions would be investigated.

The report said there should be new legislation ensuring schools provide adequate learning provision for all excluded pupils, whether their time away from school is temporary or permanent.

Professor Reid had not seen the government's action plan when TES Cymru went to press, but he said: "I just hope teachers' hopes won't be dashed too much with the announcement of this credit-crunch action plan.

"There was a great deal of optimism after the report was published, but no one could have predicted the recession and its effects on the education budget."

An Assembly government spokeswoman said: "We have been working closely with Professor Reid and the other members of the steering group to ensure the action plan will have the best possible impact on young people in Wales."

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