Recently, I have written a piece of guidance for the trust that I work for, in order to support the trust exclusion process. I was finding that I was being asked to support schools more and more with exclusions so I wrote a piece of guidance to help support this. I thought it may be helpful so posted it here. Please keep in mind that thsi has been written for schools who have Associate Principals and/or Executive Principals in academies but the general premise is the same for schools with different leadership structures and LA or maintained schools. The main changes between LA schools and academies are when parents make written appeals against exclusion decisions.
This guidance serves to support Head Teachers if they decide to exclude children. It sets out the difference between fixed term and permanent exclusions and it clarifies what constitutes to illegal exclusions. It also gives general guidance on the exclusion process, including time frames, and gives advice on what paperwork needs to be prepared for the Governor Review Meeting and/or the Independent Review.
This document should be read alongside:
- DfE: Exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England
- The Trust Exclusion Policy
Guidance and policy
The exclusion process is part statutory and part non-statutory (it differs slightly between academies and local authority maintained schools) and the key driving policy behind it is the DfE policy mentioned above. The DfE policy governs the exclusion of pupils from local authority maintained schools, academies, free schools and pupil referral units. This also includes special schools (PMLD, SEBD etc) who are controlled by any of the listed educational establishments. All schools must follow the stipulated guidance from the DfE unless they have good reason not to. If in a particular case there is good reason not to, it would be good practice to document what was done and the reason why.
For the last six and a half years, I have been in the privileged position of being able to visit many schools and see lots of different and wonderful practice. I worked for a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) from 2010-2014 where I supported children who were at risk of being excluded from their mainstream schools and I also helped to reintegrate permanently excluded children back into mainstream education. This has allowed me to see many effective and ineffective strategies, in terms of dealing with behaviour. The last few years have seen me move from full class teaching to Assistant Headteacher with only a 50% timetable. As well as this, I have become a Specialist Leader in Education (SLE) within the last year or so and have been given lots of opportunities to help schools in my ever-growing multi-academy chain.
I’ve written a previous blog post called Conflict Spiral – letting children know we can listen which is an idea from Team Teach. The conflict spiral is excellent at thinking about behaviour as an escalating crisis with many different points or stages. These stages help us to try and think of behaviour in a different way but in particular, they make me think about conducting a positive debrief with a child after an incident.
There are two ways of thinking about a child after an incident in terms of what we can do for them. We can either:
- Continue to manage future incidents for the child
- Teach the child to manage future incidents themselves
If a child repeatedly goes into crisis, staff can manage them every time. They can help them to manage the crisis at that point and also, they may choose to physically intervene. This is a control and at times, it is useful. If we only do things to help children during the time of a crisis, we will only seek to react to their poor behaviour. If we want to help them to manage themselves in the future, rather than depend on the member of staff, we have to debrief every incident, every time. Read the rest of this entry
Last year I delivered some behaviour training and I did the same this year. This post summarises some of their questions.
On Thursday 22nd September, I delivered some training to a group of NQTs as part of our Academy Trust training programme. The session was great, very informal in terms of delivery style but well structured. At the beginning of the session, some of them put up post-its with particular questions that they would like answering. Rather than paying them 10 minutes lip service at the end, I said that I would respond to them as a whole by email so that they could be used as a starting point for further discussion if necessary.
This blog post is simply the questions that were on the post-its and the answers that I gave in the email. It seemed a shame to waste them!
A child who interrupts to correct/tell you how to do things
Some children just have to tell you everything that you do wrong. This can be frustrating but as soon as you let the frustration show, it will manifest itself. Being frustrated will not change the child’s behaviour. Speak to them about whether things are useful to know or vitally important. When they correct you, start threading in and asking whether what they just said was vitally important at that point or not. You may have to categorise with them. Keep doing this consistently and when they’ve got it, as soon as they start to interrupt you or shoot their hand up when you know that it is something that isn’t imperative, ask them whether it is vitally important or whether they can tell you at the end of the lesson because you’ll have time to listen to them. It will work in one of two ways – they will either get fed up of coming back and telling you at lunch that actually called John by the name of James (or something else pointless) or it will give them a more appropriate time to tell you. Some may just need to say it. If it is at an appropriate time, just thank them. This is then dealt with courteously and you can get on with your lesson.
Exclusions are the most serious consequence that a school can issue to a child in this country. This blog post aims to highlight some of the key points when considering exclusions as well as looking at the balance of when and when not to exclude as well as the implications for excluding children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). As well as this, I will offer my own thoughts and experience on exclusions. If you want to read further on exclusions, I would suggest reading DfE: Exclusion from maintained schools, Academies and pupil referral units in England.
The power to exclude
Schools can choose to exclude children on the grounds of disciplinary only. They cannot exclude for any reason and infact, they must protect children and make sure that all children are treated fairly and not excluded on the grounds of things such as disability or race. Only the Head of a school or academy can exclude a child (that includes Executive Heads) and no-one else. Many people can contribute towards the child and the evidence but it is only the Head who can authorise this and therefore they must be the one who signs the letter. The decision to exclude must be legal, reasonable and fair.
When faced with displays of behaviour that challenge most schools resort to sanctions and consequences. For some this may work. If you work with Young people with a special educational need, menta…
This blog will only make sense to those of you that have worked in schools with some challenging behaviour. If not, go work in one of these and then come back.
I’ve sat in classrooms where students have thrown things across the room and the teacher hasn’t seen. Where students have done no work and they haven’t been challenged on it. Where the entire class is chatting and the teacher has stood at the front carrying on teaching, regardless.
These lessons didn’t have these issues because the lessons werent all singing and dancing so that students don’t misbehave; this is rubbish. Perhaps controversially, I think that children’s behaviour is controlled by what a teacher allows to happen in class. Students have a responsibility to behave but if they don’t it is a teacher’s responsibility to deal with it. If you can see the paper flying across the room or see…
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As part of my current role, I am responsible for behaviour in the cluster I work in and I am an accredited Team Teach instructor. I have been trained in Team Teach for the last 7 years (four of that while working in a PRU and three years in my current mainstream) and I have been an instructor for the last year. I, alongside my colleague, have trained around 150 staff in our Multi Academy Trust and I will be training another 20 or so in September. One of the biggest problems that I come across as the behaviour lead for the cluster I work in, is when some people are trained in schools and some are not. Usually, the majority of staff, who have not had any formal training in positive handling, see themselves as not being allowed to physically touch or restrain children. This is simply not the case and this has caused schools so many problems. Knowledge is power… or so they say. This blog post intends to be my outlook on the restraint, risk and reduction as well as a link to some formal documentation.
Power to use reasonable force and duty of care
All members of staff who work in a school have a legal power to use reasonable force. There are set reasons when staff could use reasonable force because whenever anyone physically handles another person, it must be a legal use of force. You can’t normally physically touch another person without their consent. If I was to walk down the street and take hold of someones arm against their will, they would have a right, and possibly should, press charges for assault. In schools, we act under exceptional circumstances and if the situation presents itself, we can step outside of this norm. The DfE, in their non-statutory guidance, states that reasonable force ‘means using no more force than is needed.’ The term force, in the contexts of reasonable force is deemed when the force is applied to control of restrain.