Assembly must act on behaviour

16th May 2008 at 01:00
The National Behaviour and Attendance Review report should come as a huge wake-up call to the Assembly government (pages 1 and 4)
The National Behaviour and Attendance Review report should come as a huge wake-up call to the Assembly government (pages 1 and 4). Every recommendation can be traced back to one overriding fact - a total lack of government support for teachers at the frontline dealing with threatening pupil behaviour.

It is no wonder that some schools have resorted to extreme, as well as illegal, exclusion methods. The fact remains, however, that unlike in England there is no central funding, no all-Wales guidelines - not even a good research base - with which to tackle pupil disaffection in Wales. Hats off to our neighbours for their investment.

Teachers are feeling threatened by pupil behaviour, but they have almost no training to deal with it. A teenager does not have to brandish a knife to be frightening or intimidating. Drunk, high or emotionally scarred pupils in a class can all be threatening.

So what next for this pioneering report, that must have cost so much to compile? This research cries out for urgent action, but will anything actually change?

The NBAR steering group should stay intact until justice has been done for teaching staff. Rumour has it, though, that this worthy group will be disbanded soon after the photoshoot, stage-managed by yet another PR company.

Teachers in Wales need guidance on how far they can physically restrain violent pupils without landing themselves in court. They need a central training fund to learn survival techniques for bad behaviour. And they need all this now, not later.

We also need new legislation to stop youngsters roaming Wales's streets. What this report also brings home is the absolute necessity of ensuring every child in mainstream education leaves school able to read and write.

What emerges from this research is the total lack of concrete evidence, or reliable figures by the Assembly government, necessary to create a policy to tackle the behavioural problems of difficult young people - problems that are symptomatic of so many of society's ills.

The lack of investment and support for teachers faced with these pupils is staggering. It is time for action, and TES Cymru is going to be monitoring progress closely.

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