Experts in behaviour management to help schools

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Teams of behaviour experts will be sent into schools in England where behaviour is rated as merely 'satisfactory,' said Schools' Secretary Ed Balls. Government adviser Sir Alan Steer has said in a key report on discipline that 'satisfactory isn't good enough.' Figures obtained by the Tories suggest the number of children repeatedly suspended for a fixed period is rising. But Ed Balls says the government supports head teachers where they need to permanently exclude students. Sir Alan's report said there was much evidence that behaviour in schools was good and improving. At the annual conference of the Nasuwt teaching union, some teachers questioned this view. Where Ofsted rates a school's behaviour as 'satisfactory,' local authorities should see this as a trigger for additional support, said Sir Alan's report. He said no new legal powers to discipline pupils were needed, but that awareness of them needed to be raised.

Sir Alan's report recommends the use of 'withdrawal rooms,' or other alternative provision, to remove a disruptive child from a class until behaviour improves. But some teachers have warned these can be abused. Teachers at the Nasuwt conference said some students wanted to be sent out of lessons. Jules Donaldson, a teacher from Sandwell, said, 'They're supping their cups of tea and toast. At some schools they're queuing up to get into the withdrawal rooms.' Just under 30% of schools have a behaviour rating of satisfactory. The Conservatives claim the government has made it more difficult for schools to permanently exclude children from school, but Ed Balls denied this. The number of children excluded more than 10 times in a single year went up from 310 in 2004 to 837 in 2007, showed the figures. Sir Alan said that school provision out of the classroom should be used as part of a planned early intervention strategy and, if possible, before incidents of serious misbehaviour occur. If a child is permanently excluded from school, there can be an appeal to an independent panel to try to be reinstated. The Conservatives say they would abolish these panels, but the Steer report says they are necessary to avoid schools having to justify decisions in the courts. They also say that potential fines for permanently excluding badly-behaved pupils mean schools are choosing to repeatedly exclude for a fixed period instead.

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