Background: To help inform its review of the behaviour and discipline, and suspensions and permanent exclusions guidance later this year, the Department for Education (DfE) launched a call for evidence on:
- behaviour management strategies;
- banning mobile phones from the school day;
- removal rooms and spaces;
- in-school behavioural units; and
- managed moves,
The DfE wanted to improve the available evidence and understand how it could improve the experiences of all children and young people in school. It also wanted to know how schools create a culture where all pupils and staff feel safe, wanted and welcomed and can reach their full potential.
Behaviour management strategies: Schools have continued to be responsive to the impact of COVID-19. They have been proactive in planning ways to keep their staff and pupils safe and have been proactive in considering the wider repercussions of their actions. This has extended to classroom and behaviour management. The necessary use of consistent groupings (bubbles) in primary schools has meant that the use of classroom withdrawal had to be rethought. Difficulties in supporting all learners including those that needed to be withdrawn from lessons included lack of available space due to every space being used to reduce class sizes, and a lack of staff due to the need to restrict visitors onto site.
Removal rooms and spaces: Due to COVID-19, many schools have had to press rooms into use as permanent teaching spaces to support learners and maintain suitable groups and social distancing, therefore the use of removal rooms has reduced. Furthermore, in some schools, staff have also remained with year groups to reinforce the bubble hence schools have not been able to staff the spaces. This has led to a return to children working outside of classrooms, in corridors and outside senior leadership offices – or in some instances, being sent home for their own safety. SEND children have been hugely impacted and those with behavioural problems have been amongst those impacted the most. With virtual and remote learning children have still been able to access the learning and teacher input but have been prevented from disrupting the learning of others. However, their personal needs have been more difficult to meet.
In-school behavioural units: There are many reasons why behavioural units, both in-school and separate provision succeed and fail, this is often the same as for other types of specialist and mainstream provision. All education provision requires adequate funding, suitable facilities and resources and above all, a dedicated and highly trained staff body. Sadly, in many facilities, staff are overworked and improperly resourced making it difficult for them to achieve their aims. The majority of separate provision have purpose-built facilities designed to support social, as well as academic development. They have clear rules that encourage and reinforce good behaviour whilst also having appropriate sanctions. This is something which is not always possible for in-school provision which can find it has to follow the same discipline procedure as is in place for all other pupils, which is not always applicable and may actually impair success.
Managed moves: As stated above, there is no legal definition of a ‘managed move’, and this can mean there are a wide range a variance in how they are achieved across Local Authorities and Academy Trusts. The statutory guidance on exclusions states: “a school can also transfer a pupil to another school – a process called a ‘managed move’ - if they have the agreement of everyone involved. Many times, managed moves are required because of the complete breakdown in relationships between the pupil and their setting but sometimes the pupil and their parents are left feeling like they have no alternative. In circumstances such as these, a managed move may be the most appropriate way forward and needs to be achieved without the full agreement of all. Managed moves are most appropriate where they operate in conjunction with action outside of school. By dismantling the relationships inside and outside of school and providing new support and encouragement in a new environment it is possible to achieve change, but this is disruptive and expensive and requires the buy in of the family too.