Don't be 'seduced' by zero tolerance, teachers told

Educators 'need to sharpen their wits' and 'block out the din of zero-tolerance agendas', says SEND leader

John Roberts

The chair of the NAHT's SEND council will tell teachers not to be 'seduced' by zero tolerance agendas when looking at behaviour.

Teachers will be urged not to be “seduced” by “zero-tolerance agendas” when dealing with pupils’ behaviour, at a conference on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) taking place today.

Ahead of the online event, Marijke Miles, chair of the NAHT school leaders' union's SEND council, said that educators "need to sharpen their wits, brighten their intellectual torches [and] block out the din of zero-tolerance agendas and cheap soundbites".

She is due to speak at today's event organised by the union, titled 'Looking Behind, Beneath and Beyond the Behaviour'.

Ms Miles, who is also the headteacher of a special school in Hampshire, also said before the event: “Behaviour is always about need. It's about communicating a need – usually an unmet one. Our jobs as educators is to try to understand that need.


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 “It is often too easy to be seduced by terms like ‘no excuses’ and ‘zero tolerance’. Instead, we need to look behind the behaviour at what might be its cause and what it is telling us to arrive at a resolution.”

She said that she hoped the conference would give school leaders confidence to guide the practice for all children in their settings.

She added: “At this time, more than ever, all educators need to sharpen their wits, brighten their intellectual torches, block out the din of zero-tolerance agendas and cheap soundbites, and reaffirm their personal values around the right of every single child to be treated with optimism, curiosity and compassion – regardless of their behaviour.”

The NAHT has said its conference will “offer a wide range of expert perspectives and experience to provide new ways in which to view and understand behaviour, alongside the opportunity to listen, reflect, debate and explore the issues”.

The event will feature keynote speeches from Ms Miles; learning and behaviour consultant Fintan O’Regan; Professor Adam Boddison, chief executive of Nasen (National Association for Special Educational Needs); and Joe Cook, a musician and poet with learning disabilities from Birmingham who works in schools, community centres and pupil referral units delivering music and creative writing lessons and workshops.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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