Little support for parties’ tough line on bad behaviour in schools

    The Conservative and Labour parties’ promise to crack down on bad
    behaviour in schools ignores causes of the problems and fails to
    reflect the views of education professionals and the public, new
    research for Community Care shows.

    Although Labour supports more inclusion of pupils with special
    educational needs (SENs) and is committed to reducing permanent
    exclusions, it appears to be at odds with pressure for academic
    results and the ability of popular schools to select pupils.

    The Conservatives are dedicated to massively expanding pupil
    referral units (which they would rename as turnaround schools),
    keeping special schools open and giving head teachers more power to
    exclude pupils for bad behaviour.

    But a survey of 1,000 education professionals and 2,000 members of
    the public, carried out as part of Community Care’s Election 2005
    campaign, finds that 80 per cent of professionals and 68 per cent
    of the public think pupils with SENs would benefit from being in
    mainstream schools, as long as they have proper support.

    Moreover, a similar proportion think that, with enough support and
    resources, an inclusion policy would benefit the rest of the
    school.
    Nearly eight out of 10 professionals say the political focus on
    league tables and exam results has resulted in more children being
    excluded from mainstream schools than 20 years ago.

    More than 70 per cent agree that politicians make inclusion of
    pupils with behavioural or emotional problems more difficult by
    focusing on school discipline.

    Lack of training and support is identified by the professionals as
    underlying most exclusions, while some 85 per cent say some
    children are excluded because they cannot get early access to child
    and adolescent mental health services.

    Nine in 10 professionals say there is a lack of quality alternative
    provision for children with challenging behaviour, while nearly
    two-thirds feel most children with SENs do not have those needs
    met.

    In a report commissioned for the campaign published this week,
    educationalists from Cambridge University highlight a concentration
    of pupils with SENs in the most deprived schools. They call for
    schools to be rewarded instead of punished for working successfully
    with difficult children.

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