Schools need help to cut exclusions

2nd January 2009 at 00:00
This year, methods of dealing with disruptive pupils will be brought under public scrutiny, and could result in new legislation exclusive to Wales that would make it harder for schools to exclude.

The National Behaviour and Attendance Review, published last year, demonstrated that while schools were excluding far too easily, there was a real understanding why.

Established teachers in Wales receive little - if any - training to deal with the anti-social behaviour of their pupils. Such behaviour can prove highly intimidating.

In fact, newly qualified teachers are often best placed to deal with disruptive pupils than their more senior colleagues by virtue of better training at teaching colleges.

But it does not take rocket science to deduce that some teachers are uncertain about how to deal with bad behaviour and how best to approach it.

Unlike in England, researchers from the behaviour review believe a hardline approach is not the answer to tackling anti-social behaviour, but they also understand why schools use it as a last resort.

In today's TES Cymru, we highlight a scheme in Bridgend that is making it easier for schools to liaise with social workers and police liaison officers. But why is it not happening across Wales?

The Shannon Matthews case has brought home exactly why some children might not be model pupils, and why their behaviour is anti-social at times. Many children might be suffering indescribable horrors at home.

If schools exclude pupils because there is a lack of interaction with social services and police - through no fault of their own - then who can blame them?

It makes sense that poor behaviour should be nipped in the bud at school. The same anti-social behaviour will spill over into the community, making the lives of some hell. But teachers need support in their endeavours and cannot do it alone.

The only hope is that 2009 will be the year when the review's recommendations are taken seriously and action is taken by the Assembly government - not only to introduce new legislation on exclusions, but also to offer some grassroots support to schools that simply cannot go it alone.

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