Responding to new guidance published today (Friday 7 May) by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) on improving behaviour in schools, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:
“This is an important report. The EEF’s measured and evidence-based approach to behaviour is extremely welcome because there’s a lot that’s been said on this matter that is neither accurate nor helpful to pupils. It is important to see here that there is little evidence that today’s pupils behave any worse than previous generations.
“As NAHT has said, tough talk on behaviour may sound good, but it rarely helps. Good behaviour is important for effective learning to take place; classroom disruption can be very problematic. But for many children and young people, their behaviour is a way of communicating that something isn't right. It is vital that we don't look at ‘bad’ behaviour in isolation and take too simplistic an approach in tackling it.
“The recommendations in this guidance that bad behaviour should be tackled using personalised approaches, and that teachers’ time should be spent on understanding and supporting individual children, are quite correct. There is no evidence that zero-tolerance approaches are more effective. It is important to find out if there is an underlying cause for an individual child's behaviour, whether it be mental wellbeing, undiagnosed SEND, or problems at home.
"But schools need capacity and resource for this, and the current twin crises of funding and recruitment and retention mean that many school leaders face an impossible task. Highly skilled staff in sufficient numbers are the key, as well as funding for the right training and resources, and access to external specialist services with the capacity to help when necessary.”
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