More pearls of wisdom from the mouths of politicians — children’s unacceptable behaviour has to be dealt with, behaviour in schools has to improve, etc. On and on they drone. But, Mr Politician, we know that already. Try telling us something we haven’t heard before!
In fact, what teachers want is to be trained on how to improve kids’ behaviour and they also need the support of the office dwellers — head teachers, managers, etc — to enable them to succeed! Not much chance of that happening in the current climate!
What does Mr Politician say is the answer to the problem?
As usual they revert to repeating what they always say! Give more powers to head teachers so they can permanently exclude the unruly, anti-social and generally bad mannered kids. That hasn’t worked before so why should it start working now? It brings to mind the definition of madness — keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result! It just won’t happen — it can’t happen! The only answer is to stop doing it they way you are and do something else. The problem is that what should be done is what few people have the courage to promote…
It’s a fact that excluding kids has practically no impact on unacceptable behaviour in schools. It simply transfers the bad behaviour from school to home (or the streets) for the duration of the exclusion. Then, when the child returns to school, if nothing has changed the whole process of the child behaving badly starts again. Nothing will change unless the school actually puts something in place to prevent the bad behaviour from happening again.
The secret is in that last sentence – schools have to do something to prevent the bad behaviour recurring. It’s not magic! It’s just simple common sense and surprisingly easy to put into place.
Various journalists during the recent UK election have been questioning the electorate about what they want from the politicians and what changes they feel are necessary to improve society. A major complaint has been the reaction of the police to crime and this links with the ‘more power for schools to exclude’ issue…
Criticism of the police – who are acting under instruction from politicians – includes their success being measured by how many crimes they solve. You may be thinking that that’s what the police are supposed to do, but the people questioned said that there should be more emphasis on preventing crime from occurring in the first place rather than waiting until it has actually happened.
Prevention of crime is what people want. They want the police to use their presence and skill to deter criminals, particularly those involved in what is considered low level crime that has such a negative impact on their localities.
What has this got to do with schools and excluding kids for behaving badly? Plenty! That’s because adults in schools should learn how to prevent anti-social and unacceptable behaviour from happening in their schools. Schools should be planning for acceptable behaviour — it’s a vital part of keeping order. And that means dealing with low level problem behaviour quickly and effectively. Unfortunately, by the time you’re at the point of excluding kids you’ve left it too late.
So, how do schools prevent anti social behaviour?
They can start by deciding not to put up with low level unacceptable behaviour. All adults have to be vigilant and visible — head teachers and managers can’t afford to hide away in their comfortable offices shuffling papers and filling in forms. For starters they should be spending more time in their schools — physically present — particularly if they have behaviour problems. If you’ve got a problem you need to be where the problem is! There’s too much management time spent away from schools attending meetings and courses, the content of which could be received over the phone or through an email! Or scribbled on the back of a fag packet, as I frequently say!
A vital part of managing behaviour is teachers receiving training to equip them with the necessary skills to deal with kids’ behaviour confidently. Teachers must stop putting up with unacceptable behaviour and assert their authority. Bad behaviour has almost become the norm and however unpleasant and stressful, practically an accepted part of the job. Teachers have to let kids know at a very early stage that certain behaviours are not acceptable and won’t be tolerated. There have to be proper consequences (punishment!) for unacceptable behaviour and immediately — long before the time an exclusion becomes a possibility.
Adults have to toughen up and stop putting up with being treated intolerably by children in schools. Adults’ attitude towards dealing with children has to change significantly. It’s not enough to write policies and then sit back and expect it to happen. You have to actively manage children and that’s the bit that people are so reluctant to do! The fact is though, you have to and that’s the only way to change kids’ behaviour in schools for the better.
Some good news is that it isn’t difficult to do. Good behaviour management is pretty easy and it works with all kids. Get the simple strategies up and running — and it can happen very quickly – and you’re then into the maintenance phase. It’s then just a case of keeping it going consistently – success comes much more easily than you may think!