DfE behaviour consultation
On 29 June the DfE launched a consultation into 'Behaviour management strategies, in-school units and managed moves', with a closing date of 10 August. This was open to schools, professionals, parents and young people, however the consultation questions were written almost exclusively for schools.
The department claims it is consulting because "We want to improve the available evidence and understand how we can improve the experiences of all children and young people in school. We also want to know how schools create a culture where all pupils and staff feel safe, where they feel wanted and welcomed, and where they can reach their full potential." We would like to think this might mean a more compassionate, trauma-informed approach instead of the zero-tolerance policies currently promoted.
We tweeted extensively to encourage others to submit and publish evidence that trauma-informed, attachment-aware practices are a better form of behaviour 'management' than zero tolerance policies, isolation, suspension or restraint. The media picked up on a potential mobile phone ban, which was a distraction from the depth and breadth of the core consultation. A consultation running over the summer holidays, with an August deadline, was also less than ideal.
We decided to run a survey to evidence the correlation between behaviour policies, attendance and mental health and the results were telling, with 239 responses in 10 days. Our full submission can be accessed on our Publications page. We also produced a two-page Executive Summary of our findings (below). It is clear that strict behaviour policies, applied without sufficient flexibility, have a significant negative impact on children with SEND/SEMH. Parents feel insufficient is done to understand the drivers behind behaviour and that it's often consistency at all costs. They were almost unanimous in their request for better teacher training (specifically around behaviours and SEND/SEMH) and more compassionate, trauma-informed, attachment-aware practice.
We have also submitted evidence to the ongoing Social Care Review, highlighting the fact that low attendance is a red flag on safeguarding policies. In many cases this results in a section 47 referral, creating additional stress on families. It also introduces social services through a safeguarding lens, so rather than ask 'what do you need?', the question is more likely to be 'are you neglecting or abusing your child?', The result of these investigations is often 'no further action' and case closed, but it can be a disempowering, intrusive and extremely distressing experience. Our Social Care evidence can also be accessed on our Publications page.