Shake-up needed for troublemaker pupils

A TEACHERS' union last night called for a radical shake-up of the way exclusions and problem behaviour are dealt with in schools.

Elliot Furniss

A TEACHERS' union last night called for a radical shake-up of the way exclusions and problem behaviour are dealt with in schools.

The demand came after new Government figures were released showing that pupils were temporarily thrown out of Essex secondary schools on nearly 12,000 occasions in the 2006/07 academic year.

Now the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has warned that schools need more resources in order to tackle bad behaviour and disaffected pupils who are currently dealt with by exclusion.

You may also want to watch:

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of the Essex division of the NUT, said it was important to treat the causes of the problem and not the symptoms.

“Schools are often thwarted because of tight budgets and large class sizes,” he said. “Essex County Council is now reviewing its policy provision and it's an opportune moment to see what more can be done to support schools.”

Most Read

He said the effective support of schools in dealing with problem behaviour would only be achieved through more funding from central Government.

According to the figures, released by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), there were 11,709 fixed period exclusions (between one and 15 days) in Essex during the 2006/07 academic year - just under 13% of the school population.

Mr Glazier, who also works at a pupil referral unit in south Essex for permanently excluded children, continued: “There has been a review of the exclusions but there doesn't seem to be a consistent pattern.

“There is no doubt there has, in the past, been instances where some schools more readily exclude than others. It needs to be appropriate and proportionate - many schools see it as a failure to exclude a child.”

He said mental health issues associated to bad classroom behaviour needed to be addressed by a “multi-agency engagement” to identify the needs of children rather than exclude them.

Mr Glazier said the causes behind exclusions could vary from general disaffection to those who “can't see the point” in education or receive poor parental perceptions of it.

“Poverty, drugs and criminal activity are also factors. What I'm also seeing is an increase in the number of students who clearly have mental health issues,” he added.

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which is responsible for providing education in the county, said it was taking measures to tackle the issues surrounding exclusions.

He said: “The council is in the process of establishing Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships to support all secondary schools in the county. The partnerships will enable schools to work collaboratively among themselves and with the local authority to pool resources and share examples of good practice.”

In May the DCSF announced new measures for overhauling how some of the most troubled and challenging young people in society are educated and how to tackle poor behaviour at an earlier stage.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls said that while behaviour was good in “most schools, for most of the time”, it was still a key concern that parents raise with him.

He said: “That is why we are doing more to improve behaviour across the board. Of course heads must exclude pupils where their behaviour has overstepped the mark in a serious way and young people and their parents must face up to the consequences of their actions, but we must also do more to help schools address poor behaviour earlier.”

He said money spent on educating excluded children - about £15,000 a year per child - could be better spent on avoiding the need to exclude in the first place.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter