Call to create order in schools
A sizeable strain will be placed on cash-strapped and time-poor Welsh schools if the National Behaviour and Attendance Review's (NBAR) recommendations are implemented, it was conceded this week.
But authors of the NBAR report believe it is the Assembly government which should be footing the bill, and investing more cash to rescue teachers, who are losing the battle for classroom control.
Eleven key areas for immediate action were contained in the report, the result of 120 meetings and evidence-taking from 50 interest groups.
The government must now produce an immediate action plan in response to a plethora of calls.
Professor Ken Reid, the NBAR's chair and truancy expert, claims the report is the best insight ever undertaken into the minds of disaffected children. The group even interviewed parents who were school drop-outs.
Other recommendations include:
- no child should leave primary school without being able to read and write;
- early intervention strategies;
- the Assembly government to ensure all schools and local authorities adhere to rules on exclusion from schools and pupil referral units (spotlight inspection checks by Estyn on schools with high rates of exclusion);
- new legislation on exclusions in Wales. Local authorities should make 25 hours of learning available at key stage 4 to start within 10 days of permanent exclusion;
- social workers attached to every secondary school.
The steering group, consisting of 13 education professionals, says behaviour and attendance problems can now start as early as KS1.
It also took into consideration Wales's high levels of poverty and the social problems it can bring. There should also be more police intervention in criminal acts at schools, says the report.
The quality of teaching was seen as essential, with younger teachers deemed less likely to be in control.
"Too many teachers told us that they were under-prepared and ill-equipped to manage the pupils in their first jobs," says the report.
It proposes rapid new legislation, requiring local authorities to ensure excluded children receive an education, with 10 days for case management. Ineffective multi-agency working was also criticised.
Poor recording of statistics by the Assembly government was also alluded to in the document. This was evident this week at the launch of the Assembly government's widely lauded NEET (not in employment, education and training) strategy, where the latest figures available were from 2005.
But the NBAR says the Wales-only play-led foundation phase, the 14-19 learning pathways and School Effectiveness Framework, as well as an annual school census, will prove valuable weapons. The new curriculum for 3 to 19-year-olds, rolling out this September, will help engage the disaffected.
Leader, page 28
11 KEY AREAS
Low literacy: vital new research commissioned on links with behaviour and attendance.
Training: large numbers of professionals feeling under-trained.
Unofficial exclusions: why are they so high and so varied?
Out-of-school: why so many excluded children are roaming the streets.
Provision: wide disparity between local authorities.
Children: the need to listen to them.
Trends: research into rise of bad behaviour and truancy among girls.
Early bad behaviour: children as young as five badly behaved.
Named professional: all secondary schools need dedicated person to take on these issues.
Short-term action: Assembly government must act now.
Key stage 3: concern at number of children who are badly behaved pre-KS3. Interventions too late.