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Cracking down on misbehaviour v illegal exclusions

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Joined: 08 Oct 2007
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Location: UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 22, 2014 7:22 pm    Post subject: Cracking down on misbehaviour v illegal exclusions Reply with quote

Here in England, Sir Michael Wilshaw urges headteachers to crack down on low-level misbehaviour.

Low-level misbehaviour is certainly very undermining and very wearing - most teachers have experienced this state of affairs in one way or another during their careers and many say the situation is getting generally worse.

The watchdog has identified such behaviour as “pupils making silly comments to get attention, swinging on chairs, passing notes around, quietly humming and using mobile phones”.

It means that the chance of a pupil being taught in a calm and orderly classroom was “something of a lottery”, Ofsted will say.

The opposite perspective on this issue, however, is described in the revelations of the Children's Commissioner report about the scale of illegal exclusions: "Always Someone Else's Problem" - Office of the Children's Commissioner's Report on illegal exclusions - and it seems that this is a national disgrace with no official bodies [except lipservice paid by Ofsted] accepting any responsibility for illegal exclusions.

We need to pay attention to the minutiae of these issues however, as low-level disruption can be a general and debilitating state of affairs for teachers and children alike - and a well-known behaviour pattern of many children without learning difficulties or social challenges.

Many children associated with illegal exclusions may have learning difficulties (often literacy) and/or social challenges.

One thing is for sure, much of modern-day progressive teaching works counter to good organisation for optimum teaching and learning conditions (dependent on the subject and circumstances of course).

Nowadays, group work and fragmented teaching and learning opportunities based on 'fun games and activities' to 'appeal' to learners is very much flavour of the day and Ofsted has recently been criticised vociferously by some bloggers and think tanks for its apparent promotion of progressive practices.

Nothing wrong with more progress practices some of the time - but teaching approaches and organisation need to be fit-for-purpose and for too long teachers have been all-singing, all-dancing on the basis that they think Ofsted has been looking for a veritable performance and differentiated groupwork in the classroom.

Now Sir Michael Wilshaw has gone out of his way to indicate that the inspectorate should not write reports on school inspections in such a way as to suggest Ofsted favours any particular teaching and learning style.

It's all a bit of a mess quite frankly.

In the meantime, however, Ofsted provides footage of phonics practice via its official site of schools they describe as 'outstanding' which does not show outstanding phonics provision whatsoever and a number of phonics specialists, me included, have complained repeatedly about Ofsted undermining our work by showing very poor phonics practice indeed - the kind that will not teach all children well - 'extraneous', 'peripheral' practice - or I refer to it as 'pink and fluffy practice' as it has no content to it.

Anyway, I think it is important that whilst Ofsted headlines low-level misbehaviour we do look at the Children's Commissioner's report to balance the books:

These illegal exclusions are affecting a small, but we believe a significant minority of schools. We estimate that several hundred schools in England may be excluding children illegally, affecting thousands of children every year.

This fact, surely, is a source of shame to the entire education system. We use the term illegal to cover off the record, informal, under the radar exclusions, because that is what they are. Schools are providers of a statutory service, bound by the law. That some of them – however few – seem prepared to break it, is unacceptable.

For the child concerned, given that if they are permanently excluded but their exclusion is unrecorded they may have no records to take with them to another school where they may seek admission, such an exclusion’s consequences may be very long term, and damaging to their chances to succeed in a new place. It is of special concern that many of those who are illegally excluded also come from the groups suffering inequality, coming from particular ethnic backgrounds, or having special educational, behavioural or other needs. They are among our most vulnerable, and being made more so.

Why does this happen? This report states that there are three clear reasons.

Firstly, it is because, too often, children, parents and even teachers do not know what the law says, and what is and is not acceptable.

Secondly, there is a gap in the accountability system. Simply put, nobody, with the partial exception of the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted), is actively looking for illegal exclusions. The bodies with a statutory responsibility to act are not delivering consistently on that responsibility.

If you are a child or a parent, it is unclear who to complain to, and equally unclear what, if anything, will happen as a result.

Thirdly, there is no meaningful sanction to prevent schools from doing this. In the unlikely event that they are caught, given how covert and unrecorded an illegal exclusion is by its very nature, schools remain – and know they will remain – unpunished.

Parents and young people have repeatedly reported to us that they feel let down by the system, and have lost faith in the education system to treat them fairly.

In many cases, they feel that they are seen as a problem to be dealt with and that their rights to an education are not respected. Based on the evidence we have collected over two years, we understand how they have arrived at this view, and feel that it is unlikely to change if the status quo remains.

This is simply unacceptable and should be a source of shame to the whole of the education service. It means that children are losing out on education as a result of the actions, and inactions, of the very adults who are supposed to be responsible for educating them.

Linked to this, we are concerned that, although there is, through the statutory guidance on exclusions, a legally binding set of arrangements for schools, there is no proactive assessment of the extent to which these arrangements are being followed.

We recommend that this accountability gap should be closed. We consider that the legal position is, in many ways, already clear, but that the responsible bodies do not give due regard to their duties in this area.

Debbie Hepplewhite

Last edited by debbie on Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:23 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Joined: 08 Oct 2007
Posts: 2515
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Sep 23, 2014 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schools Improvement site: 'Heads reject Ofsted's poor classroom behaviour claims'

What is your experience - check out the poll and have your say?

Brian Lightman, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, rejected the education watchdog’s warnings about too much low-level disruption in schools in England.

Mr Lightman says claims of tolerating bad behaviour “just don’t stand up”…

Debbie Hepplewhite
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