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Our response to government’s behaviour strategies review

We’ve just submitted our response to the Department for Education’s call for evidence on behaviour management strategies, describing our practice both pre and during the pandemic including lessons learnt.

‘No one size fits all in behaviour management’

As a group of special schools and services we were open to pupils throughout, although understandably not everyone felt able to attend in person. Our challenges have been around maintaining all our routines and translating the strong, personal bonds that are so important to our community to an online context. Unexpected outcomes have come in the form of greater participation in therapy when delivered online as opposed to face-to-face and the chance to develop even deeper relationships with families as we work through new challenges to get the best for their children. 

This call for evidence is a really important piece of work from the Department. Our greatest hope is that reading about the wide variety of contexts, challenges and pragmatic, effective responses being deployed by schools across the country, will serve as proof that there really is no one size fits all when it comes to effective behaviour management. 

As well as requesting information about behaviour strategies, the Department also invited responses to a series of questions about so-called removal rooms, behaviour units and managed moves.

Removing the threat of expulsion builds trust, attachment and a sense of identity for young people.

Many of our pupils come with traumatic lived experiences of these measures and such management strategies play no part in our inclusive special education community. While we were did not submit evidence of how we use these strategies, we did point to independent research into the efficacy of TCES’s refusal to exclude (either permanent or fixed term) conducted by Goldsmiths University of London. In it, researchers Caroline Frizzell and David Woodger concluded that, 

‘This research is strong evidence that when that threat of exclusion is removed you create the space for the trust, attachment and sense of identity that these young people need to open up and make significant progress educationally, emotionally and socially. The attitude of never giving up cascades into the student experience.’  

If there are to be silver linings from this pandemic, let one of them be better understanding of the nurture and support that all children need to develop into the best version of themselves. Not by rigidly enforcing a set of expectations that some children simply cannot meet, but by recognising the impact of forces outside their control and adapting our environments so that they can thrive.