The Guardian’s Secret Teacher spoke candidly of how behaviour management affected his/her classroom and about how Gove is misguided if he thinks that children who ‘climb out of windows’ will turn up to Saturday detentions.
The problem of behaviour is much wider than the classroom door and is two fold. Firstly statutory school isn’t for every child and secondly, the current system of inclusion isn’t working.
If we accept that children respond to different learning styles in a classroom (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) then surely this could be applied to whole school learning too?
We offer a range of different pedagogical approaches in Early Years (Montessori, Steiner, Reggio Emilia etc;) and parents can choose (albeit with their bank balances) which provision suits their child best. But no such choice exists from KS1 onwards.
Imagine if we looked at school from a child’s perspective. What would school actually look like? The youngest TED talks speaker, Logan LaPlante has a view on school hacking in which he selects and chooses what to learn and more crucially how to learn.
I accept that this view of school is radical and perhaps an ideology only open to those who can finance it. The lifestyle Logan is afforded comes from homes where money is no object. Sadly poverty will always be the single, biggest barrier to education achievement.
Gove wants a radical overhaul of the UK education system. Well here’s a utopian dream for the future of education…
- Every parent has the right to choose their preferred school based on a method of teaching which suits their child’s learning style.
- A child would be assessed accordingly and parents given the option of schools best suited to their child.
- Every child would learn in an environment which was built on his or her strengths.
- Each [wishful] place is [magically] granted.
My radical overhaul of the UK education system would require it to become child centred and not Government centered. The Reggio Emilia approach is probably my most favoured in terms of ideology and its back ground. It was developed in post war Italy to heal a scarred generation of children and promotes ‘respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum’. It suits the inquisitive nature of Early Years and Primary aged children, it teaches them resilience and ownership of their learning. It also promotes learning at the child’s pace not at the teachers.
In a state system where testing and assessment is the preferred measure of education, how about children are ‘tested’ for the pedagogical approach which is best for them? We apply for secondary schools based on results. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if schools were selected for children’s different learning styles and not the other way round?
But I am a realist. And I have taught in the real world of teaching. I know the challenges faced in the classroom because unlike Gove, I have been there. Behaviour management is an area where there is no magic bullet. No singular approach will work every time and what works once may never work again.
If you have read my last post on Tough Young Teachers you will know I am all for the child’s behaviour to be challenged by looking at the root cause. There is always a back story to a child. Some may consider this a soft option but actually a school that addresses its poor behaviour is paving the way for a safe and secure learning environment for all its learners.
A child’s behaviour is influenced by a myriad of social, economic, physical and emotional factors; but what can a classroom teacher really do beyond school policy and SLT intervention? A child who is willing to climb out of windows or throw chairs, isn’t going to set his alarm for 7am Saturday morning.
The answer lies in specialist behaviour teams or units which operate outside the school system. In my role as Head of Year, I worked alongside a team of professionals who would meet to discuss which service would be best suited to a child’s needs. Pupils were selected based on a traffic light system of pupils in need and we took into account issues raised by staff, the number of classroom withdrawals and call outs.
Statutory school doesn’t suit every child and, while I understand the premise behind inclusion and one school for all, it doesn’t work. There are some students who just can not cope, for whatever reason, with school.
Young people require all their facets to be nurtured and for some a large comprehensive just isn’t the answer. Behaviour teams should be used to target the toughest pupils in a school and used to support staff. I have witnessed best practice and outcomes by professionals who really do make a difference.
Strategies from Support Staff are vital to teachers like the Secret Teacher. Help from TAs to support ESBD pupils is essential. It’s shameful that Gove doesn’t regard their invaluable contribution to education. Nor does he recognise that Saturday detentions and litter picking wouldn’t be necessary if funding for support staff wasn’t cut and/or under threat.
Pupils that are withdrawn for one to one support with the SENCO or TAs do benefit but if that support isn’t working then provisions such as the PRU are a next step.
But permanent exclusion followed by attending a PRU shouldn’t be the only ‘alternative’ educational route for disaffected young people. It also should not be seen or used, as a punitive step. There needs to be more ideas outside of the school box to accommodate those for whom, school isn’t the answer.
If I can’t have my utopian school system, then I will settle for a school system which respects the individuality of young people by providing support to teachers and pupils when they need it most.