Alan Steer: Access to Camhs vital in tackling pupil misbehaviour

Improved access to mental health services is a vital component in tackling pupil misbehaviour in schools, Alan Steer said today in the final report of his government-commissioned review on behaviour.

Steer, a former head teacher, said a “significant number” of pupils who behaved badly were likely to have mental health problems, but many heads complained about a lack of access to child and adolescent mental health services.

Among 47 recommendations, he said children’s trusts should identify how mental health services to address the full range of need will be put in place, and that Camhs services should be more proactive and accessible.

Parenting contracts

Steer, who now works at the Institute of Education in London, also called on councils and schools to make more “consistent” use of parenting contracts, “to ensure that parents are challenged to tackle their children’s unreasonable behaviour”.

He also called for:-

  • The Department for Children, Schools and Families to consider how best to support and challenge councils with disproportionately high exclusion rates in their areas.
  • The Training and Development Agency for Schools to review how initial teacher training prepares teachers to manage behaviour and teach pupils with special educational needs or a disability.
  • Schools to review their pastoral systems to ensure all pupils have someone who know them well and is able to support them with their learning.
  • Councils to raise awareness in schools about family intervention projects, under which families with behavioural problems receive intensive support to change.

Balls backs recommendations

In a letter to Steer today, children’s secretary Ed Balls said he would act on all recommendations directed at government and ministers would encourage councils, schools and agencies to act on recommendations targeted at them. An action plan will be published in June.

Meanwhile, the DCSF today published guidance on tackling bullying in a variety of settings outside schools, including in children’s homes.

Bullying in children’s homes

It said homes should provide regular training for staff on tackling bullying, make it clear bullying is unacceptable and spell out the consequences for perpetrators and include young people and staff in drawing up anti-bullying policies.

It also said young people should be supported to develop their own strategies to tackle bullying, including practising assertive body language, and trained in peer support to resolve conflicts.

The Anti-Bullying Alliance welcomed the guidance and said its regional advisers would be a source of support for practitioners working to tackle bullying outside schools.

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