Tackling challenging behaviour

"Inspectors will be given more time to look for evidence of how well pupils behave, by observing lessons and pupils’ conduct around the school. They will also expect schools to demonstrate that the standards of behaviour seen during the inspection are maintained at all times. Inspection will consider whether pupils are and feel safe in school. It is particularly important that pupils are protected and feel safe from bullying in the playground and corridors as well as in the classroom. Inspectors will look for evidence of how much bullying there is in school and how well it is dealt with. Evidence from pupils and parents will be considered alongside evidence from teachers."
The Schools White Paper 2010

In their 2010 Schools White Paper 'The Importance of Teaching', the Government declared that "Ofsted will focus more strongly on behaviour and safety". This emphasis will mean that inspectors will check that the school is using evidence to support understanding, explanation and management of behavioural difficulties and can pinpoint how much bullying there is in school and how well it is dealt with. Behavioural problems can pose a real threat to both the school climate and learning standards generally.

Sometimes it can be difficult for a teacher to know the cause of a pupil’s behaviour – this in turn creates an obstacle for the pupil maximising their attainment as staff do not know where to focus their support. This is where using Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS) can be beneficial.

PASS allows practitioners, sometimes working with the most vulnerable and disaffected young people, to gain insights into the actual causes of long-standing complex behavioural problems, while providing early identification of those most at risk of developing behavioural problems in the future. An overall PASS profile can provide invaluable insights into the different causes of two pupils who currently have the same behavioural problem. Some of the individual attitudinal measures within PASS are also closely linked with behavioural issues in their own right. For example:

  • The ‘Feelings about school’ measure can be used to evaluate anti-bullying programmes across schools
  • The ‘Preparedness for learning’ measure is highly correlated with students at risk of behavioural difficulties.

This enables users to develop both early intervention and preventative strategies, potentially avoiding the negative impact on the pupil, their class and the whole school. Moreover, the impact and effectiveness of any intervention can be measured by re-testing pupils, giving confidence in the intervention and enabling teachers to refine their highly personalised programmes of support. In short, schools can address the causes of behaviour, rather than simply reacting to emergent discipline issues on an ad hoc basis.

The application of PASS to behavioural problems has been further demonstrated in its use successfully to support some of the most vulnerable and high-risk youngsters with emotional and behavioural difficulties in pupil referral units and clinical settings. The data provided increases joined up working patterns for multi-agency teams involved in more complex case work, referrals to specialist agencies and reintegration planning.

The fully standardised PASS system can identify pupils at risk of behavioural problems in a timely fashion and also provide regional and, in some cases, postcode-specific recommendations for optimal intervention and support. Not only is this a way of ensuring the right support can be allocated to the pupils who need it most but it is also highly effective. For example, in one case, a primary school applied an appropriate targeted study support program for pupils where preparedness for learning was a concern. As a result, its exclusion rate fell from 20 short-term exclusions to zero over a two year period.