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GOOD TEACHING AND CONSISTENCY ARE KEYS TO IMPROVING BEHAVIOUR AND ATTENDANCE IN SCHOOLS

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A survey of secondary schools with high levels of absenteeism, poor behaviour and exclusions concludes that good te...
A survey of secondary schools with high levels of absenteeism, poor behaviour and exclusions concludes that good teaching provides the best incentive for attendance at school.
The report, Improving Attendance and Behaviour in Secondary Schools, published by OFSTED today, says that good teaching is essential in meeting the needs of pupils most at risk of disaffection - those with limited concentration, ill-developed social skills and poor literacy.
Her majesty's inspectors from OFSTED say that in each of the 10 schools inspected they saw some very good quality teaching and some that was poor. 'Extremes of quality were a common experience for pupils,' they say.
Inspectors also found that action to improve attendance and behaviour was most effective in those schools which linked it to well-designed efforts to improve attitudes to learning and attainment.
The survey found that the schools making the best progress in attendance, behaviour and attainment were marked by clear leadership and planning, reliable management systems that work right across the school and good use of data and evidence from monitoring.
'Their key characteristic is the consistency with which staff, having agreed a policy, apply it,' says the report.
Consistency emerges from the report as a crucial quality in many of the aspects of school management on which the survey focused: attendance, behaviour and teaching.
* On attendance, HMI say 'consistency in registration procedures and regular monitoring by senior managers are essential. Systematic follow-up of unexplained or inadequately excused absence is vital.'
* On behaviour, they say, 'Most schools have explicit behaviour policies with sound guidance on how to exercise discipline, but, too often, lack of consistency in applying them allows some pupils to exploit situations and disrupt the experience of others.'
* On teaching, 'Clarity and consistency are basic to the effective management of pupils. There is consistency both within the lesson - in the way the individual teacher deals with different pupils and situations - and with what pupils experience in their lessons with other teachers.
The report recognises the huge challenges faced by the kinds of school represented in the sample, all of which were in urban areas. It says that the attitudes of parents are critical in maintaining good attendance.
Those schools making headway on attendance have begun to counter casual attitudes on the part of some parents. It also says that urban schools often have many pupils who arrive late at school because of difficulties with public transport or simply because they left home late.
The survey found that very few pupils in the 10 schools were permanently excluded as a result of an isolated major incident; rather it was an accumulation of problems.
Overall, the schools in the survey reflected the national pattern of excluding black pupils at a higher rate than white pupils.
In some schools black and white pupils received different lengths of fixed period exclusions for similar offences. 'Few schools appear to have developed the confidence to discuss such issues straightforwardly,' say HMI.
NOTES
1. Improving Attendance and Behaviour in Secondary Schools is
published by the Office for Standards in Education. It is being
sent direct to all secondary schools. It is also available
from the OFSTED Publications Centre, tel: 07002 637833, or
07002 OFSTED or fax: 07002 693274, or e-mail:
freepublications@ofsted.gov.uk It will also be on the OFSTED
website www.ofsted.gov.uk
2. The report is based principally on special inspections carried
out by HMI from OFSTED of 10 urban secondary schools whose
truancy and exclusion rates were significantly above the
national average. Each of the schools inspected received a
full report, which can be found on the OFSTED web site. The 10
schools are:
Benfield, Newcastle upon Tyne
Bishop Thomas Grant, Lambeth
Coppersfield College, Leeds
Ducie High, Manchester
King George V, South Tyneside
Lees Brook Community, Derby
The McEntee, Waltham Forest
The Queen Elizabeth High, Rochdale
Rosebridge High, Wigan
Whalley Range High, Manchester
3. The inspections were conducted at the request of the secretary
of state for education and employment as part of a response to
the government's social exclusion unit's 1998 report Truancy and
School Exclusion (TSO,£7.00, ISBN 0-10-13572-8).
4. The new report also draws on short visits made to a further
80 secondary schools with above average truancy and exclusion
rates, and on evidence from visits and inspections of local
education authorities.
5. The purpose of the report is to analyse the action taken by
schools to tackle problems of attendance and behaviour and to
see how this action relates to other elements of school
improvement.
6. OFSTED is a non-ministerial government department established
under the Education (Schools) Act 1992 to take responsibility
for the inspection of all schools in England. Its inspection
role also includes the inspection of local education
authorities, teacher training institutions, youth work and
funded education for three and four-year-olds and from April
2001 all 16-19 education. Its staff include her majesty's
inspectors (HMI), who draw on inspection evidence to report on
good practice in schools and on a wide range of educational
issues.
--------------------------------

TRAILBLAZING SCHOOLS LEAD THE WAY IN DRIVE TO BEAT TRUANCY
Schools minister Jacqui Smith today congratulated 50 Truancy Buster schools for leading the way in the drive to cut truancy. The top three primary, secondary and special schools will each receive£10,000 and the remainder of the schools£8,000.
The winning schools who have done mostto reduce and maintain low truancy levels over the last three years include:
- King Richard Secondary School in Portsmouth which cut truancy by over two thirds from an average of 11 days missed per pupil to 3 days,
- Belvue Special School in Ealing which succeeded in reducing truancy levels from an average of 14 days missed per pupil to under 5 days, cutting truancy by over two thirds,
- St Martin's C of E Primary School in Oldham which reduced truancy levels by over two thirds from an average of over 2 days missed per pupil to under a day; and
- St Augustine of Canterbury
School in Oxford which cut truancy by over 80% from an average of 6 days per pupil to under a day.
Jacqui Smith praised the efforts of all the winning schools, which also had to improve the attendance of pupils, often in challenging circumstances.
Dramatic results were achieved by
- improving registration procedures, including registration several times a day and electronic registration
- introducing reward systems to encourage full attendance
- forging stronger links between schools, parents and Education Welfare Services so that each plays their full part in tackling truancy
- the use of Learning Mentors to follow up quickly on truancy and help turn disaffected pupils back to learning
Schools found that such methods were often helped by other measures including a system where poor attenders are accompanied to school by other pupils with a good attendance record; a work related curriculum that enables Year 11 students to divide their time between school, college and work; and breakfast and After School Clubs where children can participate in various activities including cookery, drama, tennis and sculpture.
A total of£174m is being provided through the Standards Fund in 2001-2 to support schools' work in tackling truancy and improving discipline and to help education authorities improve the education of excluded pupils.
Speaking at the awards ceremony at the New Connaught Rooms, in London, today, Jacqui Smith said: 'I am very pleased to announce the 50 schools which have been chosen for 'Truancy Buster' awards for 2000-01. Through their hard work and commitment, these schools have been able to reduce truancy, and improve their overall level of attendance, often under very challenging circumstances. It is extremely encouraging to see such excellent examples in action.
'I want every child to gain from the experience that learning can offer, and this means that children should be in school when they are required to be so. While we need to ensure that there are measures in place to check on a child's attendance, we need to make sure that schools make learning stimulating, fulfilling and fun.
'The government is committed to reducing truancy by a third by 2002. Every day 50,000 children play truant from school, missing valuable learning experiences and reducing their chances of success in adult and working life.
'More funding is being made available to schools to tackle the problem of truancy and poor behaviour. In 2001-2002,£174m will be provided -£137m of it going straight to schools - to help tackle truancy.
'This is in addition to the resources available to schools for mentors and in-school discipline measures in most of England's urban areas through our Excellence in Cities programme, and the funding we have made available through the Children's Fund to prevent poverty and tackle social exclusion.'
Jacqui Smith also confirmed that from 1 March this year, a new higher penalty will come into force for parents convicted of school attendance offences. The maximum fine that can be imposed will rise from£1,000 to£2,500, with an ultimate sanction of up to three months imprisonment. Courts will also be able to secure the
attendance of parents in court.
She said: 'Parents have a clear responsibility to ensure their children turn up for school. Denying their children an education is denying their children a future. Most parents accept that duty and want to be closely involved with their school and their children's education.
But where it is clear that despite the best efforts of schools and Local Education Authorities, parents knowingly fail to ensure that their child attends school, the penalties must reflect the seriousness of the offence.'
NOTES
This notice applies to England.
1. This is the first Truancy Buster Award event recognising schools who have done most to reduce truancy over the last academic year. The 50 award winners are those schools who have reduced truancy the most, have reduced truancy in challenging circumstances, or have maintained consistently low levels of truancy whilst facing
challenging circumstances. At the same time, schools have either maintained or improved levels of attendance.
2. Each school has been given an award of£8,000, with three schools receiving a higher award of£10,000. The latter are those who have done the most to reduce truancy for their category of school (primary, secondary, special). A full list of award winners, are attached.
3. In 2001-2002 the Social Inclusion: Pupil Support Grant will be£174m.£137m of this will be going directly to schools to help them tackle truancy and poor behaviour, of which£10m will support the establishment of new Learning Support Units to ensure that disruptive pupils are taken out of the classroom.
Local authorities are receiving£36m to provide co-ordinated support in tackling bad behaviour, truancy, and providing education to excluded pupils.
4. From 1 March 2001 higher penalties can be imposed on parents convicted of school attendance offences. Parents who know that their child is not attending school and are not taking any reasonable action to secure their attendance, could face fines of up to£2,500, and/or a term of imprisonment of up to three months.
The higher offence will also allow courts to secure the attendance of parents in court. This provision was included in the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000, which received Royal Assent in November 2000.
TABLES ASSOCIATED WITH THIS RELEASE CAN BE OBTAINED FROM THE DfEE PRESS OFFICE
EDUCATION/GOVERNMENT IS TACKLING TRUANCY AND BAD BEHAVIOUR IN SCHOOL
Schools Minister Jacqui Smith today welcomed the OFSTED report into attendance and behaviour which highlighted special inspections of ten secondary schools with disproportionately high levels of truancy or exclusions.
She also revealed that nearly 560 extra staff had been employed at Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) since 1997 which was helping to improve standards and to deliver a full-time education for excluded pupils in an increasing number of authorities. The number of in-school Learning Support Units (LSUs) has already reached 1,000 a year ahead of schedule.
Jacqui Smith was presenting the Truancy Buster Awards in London today. The awards are given to 50 schools which have done the most to reduce truancy or to maintain high attendance over the last three years.
She said: 'Good schools prevent truancy and maintain discipline well. Today's report focusing on schools which have had a more challenging record offers valuable lessons on what works well - good practice that we are committed to making available widely.
'That's why we provided£131m to tackle truancy, improve discipline and educate excluded pupils in 2000-01 and next year this will increase by a third to£174m - ten times the level available in 1996-97. Extra resources are also being provided through Excellence in Cities and the Children's Fund.
'These resources have helped the schools which are tackling truancy successfully, highlighted today.
'They mean that we now have 1,000 in-school learning support units established for about 10,000 pupils at any one time. This network, designed to get badly behaved pupils out of the class quickly, has been delivered a year ahead of the original target date.
'The further expansion of Excellence in Cities and the Excellence Clusters programme will provide around an additional 140 units. OFSTED is right to stress the importance of pupils being taught to behave in such units as well as their having a clear programme which matches the pupils' needs and encourages effective re-integration. They are proving very popular with schools, heads and teachers and are helping improve discipline.
'We are giving heads the full support they need to tackle disruptive and violent behaviour, including the use of exclusion where appropriate. We have clarified the exclusion guidance to emphasise that heads can permanently exclude pupils who are very disruptive or violent. And the new guidance for exclusion appeal panels makes clear that the head's decision to exclude should not be overridden in a range of circumstances, including where there is violence or the threat of violence.
'We recognise that improving behaviour also means better attention to teaching. As Mike Tomlinson said in his annual report, the worst behaviour often begins to surface in the early years of secondary school. We intend to tackle that with a programme to improve standards particularly for 11 to 14 year olds. We also intend to
improve greatly the opportunities for those over 14 to take vocational programmes, including GCSEs and apprenticeships.'
There is also a growing trend for pupils at risk of exclusion to attend off-site PRUs. Such placements are frequently successful ' particularly for Key Stage 2 and 3 pupils. OFSTED's 1995 report on the first 12 PRUs inspected showed low pupil attainment, sub-standard teaching quality and work programmes which were making
little impact on the low level of students' reading and writing.
OFSTED's most recent annual report on 1999-2000 inspections highlighted the improving performance of PRUs and said that many of the units were planning to move to full-time provision from September 2000, as well as offering a wider curriculum to students with a strong emphasis on literacy and numeracy. Teaching was now
reported as satisfactory or better in nine out of ten PRUs and pupils in most units were making satisfactory or better progress.
Jacqui Smith added: 'We are seeing a transformation in the education provided to excluded pupils and we are committed to driving up standards for all pupils, including the most challenging and difficult. Between 1997 and 2000, the number of places at PRUs has increased by over 1,000.
'Over the same period the number of full-time equivalent teachers, instructors and education support staff increased by 559, including nearly 300 teachers and instructors. Local Education Authorities are planning to spend 13 per cent more on PRUs and behaviour support plans this year compared to last and we expect there to be a ten per cent rise in the number of PRUs between 2000 and 2001.
'In the past excluded pupils often received only 2/3 hours education each week. All local authorities will move to a full timetable for excluded pupils by September 2002: in January 2000 a third of PRUs were providing full-time education and two-thirds 13 or more hours per week.
'The most recent LEA plans indicate that by September 2001 nearly two thirds of authorities will be making full time provision for excluded secondary pupils. We regard such provision as an absolute priority for LEAs and given that it is being properly resourced, will not regard it as acceptable for any authority to avoid making such provision by 2002.'
NOTES
This notice applies to England.
The schools inspected were:
Benfield, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; Bishop Thomas Grant, Lambeth;
Copperfields College, Leeds; Ducie High, Manchester; King George V,
South Tyneside; Lees Brook Community, Derby; The McEntee, Waltham
Forest; Queen Elizabeth High School, Rochdale; Rosebridge High,
Wigan; and Whalley Range High, Manchester.
The inspection report 'Improving Attendance and Behaviour in Secondary Schools' inspected ten secondary schools with disproportionately high levels of truancy or exclusions and a further 80 where truancy and exclusion rates were above the national
average in 1999/2000 at the request of Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett. The report's findings show:
- strong leadership and consistent systems for monitoring attendance are key to cutting truancy;
- attitudes of parents are also important - schools which made headway on attendance began to counter casual attitudes on the part of some parents; and
- schools are getting better at responding to difficult behaviour. Most teachers managed the behaviour of most pupils well most of the time, though a minority of pupils were less willing to co-operate.
2. Jacqui Smith was speaking at the DfEE's Truancy Busters event at the New Connaught Rooms, in Holborn WC2, presenting 50 awards to schools leading the way in cutting truancy.
3. The OFSTED findings, which confirm advice given in DfEE Circular 10/99 'Social Inclusion: Pupil Support', show that as well as explicit behaviour policies and sound guidance on exercising discipline, teachers need to be consistent in applying sanctions. A lack of consistency allows some pupils to exploit situations and
disrupt others' education. Another finding is that the greater the range of sanctions available, the fewer the pupils who end up being permanently excluded from school.
4. The most recent Annual Schools Census figures for PRUs show that the number of pupils solely registered at PRUs has increased from 7,530 to 8,479 since 1997 and the number of dually registered pupils from 4,403 to 4,586. The number of full-time equivalent teachers and instructors at PRUs has increased from 1,779 to 2,070 and the number of education support assistants from 382 to 650. A third of PRUs
reported providing full-time education and two thirds 13 or more hours per week. Last year there were 295 PRUs. A ten per cent increase in PRUs would create a further 30 units.
5. The DfEE's letter of 21 January 2000 to Chief Education Officers clarified the guidance on the use of exclusion and the letter of 4 August 2000 revised the guidance for exclusion appeal panels.
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