Satisfactory is no longer good enough

17th April 2009 at 01:00
In his fifth and final report, behaviour tsar argues rating should trigger extra support

Schools judged to have "satisfactory" behaviour are not good enough and should expect regular intervention from outsiders to help them improve, government behaviour "tsar" Sir Alan Steer has said.

The former headteacher, who has led a four-year investigation into behaviour, also called for information about the way pupils act towards each other and teachers to be more easily available to parents on the new school report card.

Sir Alan said a satisfactory rating should be a "trigger" for extra support. Those with inadequate standards of behaviour have an urgent need for "significant and speedy improvement" and this should be a priority for local authorities.

His fifth and final report, which makes 47 separate recommendations, says teachers should work with others to tackle bad behaviour on pupils' journey to and from lessons, schools should only have to produce "limited and coherent" documents for the Government and independent appeals panels should be retained to stop teachers' decisions on exclusions being overruled.

Sir Alan also wants every school to have a withdrawal room for when pupils need to be quickly withdrawn from class, but for it not to be used as a "dumping ground".

In his speech to NASUWT members, Ed Balls, who has accepted all of Sir Alan's recommendations, said he also thought satisfactory wasn't "good enough" and all schools should have behaviour rated as good or excellent. "Satisfactory is not satisfactory, it's not good enough," Mr Balls said.

Sir Alan's report also states that all schools should review their behaviour policies regularly. He thinks many teachers are not obeying the law, which says excluded children should be back in education within six days. His examples of best practice include early intervention, regular training for teachers and getting children involved in the "life" of the school.

He wants every pupil to be able to go to a teacher who "knows them well" and increased use of learning mentors and nurture groups.

He also wants local authorities to make more use of parenting classes and projects working with families, as well as a "more consistent" use of parenting contracts to tackle parents to challenge their child's unreasonable behaviour.

General secretary Chris Keates was pleased the reports talked about supporting teachers rather than blaming them for bad behaviour.

In his speech, Mr Balls also launched guidance on how cyberbullying of staff could be tackled.

Under attack

Teachers routinely experiencing horrifying violence in special schools are being discouraged from reporting assaults to the police by headteachers - even though litigious parents are increasingly falsely accusing them of attacks, NASUWT members have heard.

Delegates said teachers are bitten so often they have to buy their own arm guards and pay for protective injections - but many schools were unable to afford to send teachers on training courses that might help them deal with regular attacks.

Other teachers described getting death threats from children and some have received injuries that have taken six years to heal.

Members voted to conduct a survey of staff in special schools and other specialist settings to find out the full extent of the problem and ask for their views on possible solutions.

Mark Perry, from Flintshire, said he was bitten so hard blood was drawn. He has also been scratched and punched. "What's worse is what happens after the incident and the humiliation of reporting it when you have to explain what you could have done to prevent it and what happened before," Mr Perry said. "But the verbal and physical assaults are nothing compared to the harm of a false accusation."

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