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Review can be a boost to behaviour

Is the behaviour of our children worse today than 20 years ago? (see page 1). This is one question dodged in the interim report of the National Behaviour and Attendance Review.

Teacher representatives asked by TES Cymru this week all claimed it was. However, this report has been widely welcomed in the teaching profession, with high hopes that it will change things for the better with new Wales-only legislation. This is not to say the future is gloomy, with a generation of young "jailbirds" in the making. The report concludes that most schools are well-ordered places to be, and many at the chalkface echo this. But, as the report states, bad behaviour is a major factor behind new teachers making a quick exit from the profession.

It begs the question of whether the behaviour is really that bad and whether teachers even heads - are simply not armed with the right training to take on today's youth. Our steering group appears to be going for the latter and this is simply not good enough for a nation and all its protestations of teacher development and good practice. On permanent exclusions, the report-writers argue that schools should be seeking alternatives to exclusions. If only those alternatives were there.

Gareth Jones, secretary of the Association of School Leaders, remarks that every head sees permanent exclusion as a "sign of failure." But he also makes a valid point when he says that when dealing with a violent pupil endangering other pupils and staff, there really is no way out. Yes, he says there should be more "joined up" thinking and more support. But the reality is that you can't provide a quick fix for pupils with a violent temper and some psychological problems that need some tender loving care.

The importance of the national review of behaviour and attendance in Wales is immense. Lessons need to be learnt from England, which is already producing legislation to tackle bad behaviour as the steering group goes about their all-important deliberations.

This review has the power to change the life chances of both teachers and our future generation. Let's just hope it doesn't go down as another missed opportunity.

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