Will Behaviour Hubs help?
The Government has said that its new behaviour hubs will offer schools Requiring Improvement the opportunity to work with other schools on their behaviour policy and practice.
The NEU rejects the link between being in a category and the assumption that those schools are ‘failing’ on behaviour. Schools in categories are often in high poverty area where staff recruitment and retention is challenging and a deficit model approach is not helpful or justified.
The NEU does want to see much more peer support between schools as an approach to reviewing practice and collaborating around young people with challenging behaviour.
However, the NEU has the following concerns about aspects of the behaviour hubs program:
- Many of the lead ‘hub’ schools in the first tranche are academies and MATs. The opportunity to engage should not be limited by school status. Whilst some of these schools will have effective approaches to behaviour, it is well documented that some academies have spear headed the Zero Tolerance approach. This failure to consider the context for behaviour leads to more unexplained exits, poor outcomes for SEND children and racial disparity in who is excluded. (Link to the EPI research on the website here).
- The values being advocated by Tom Bennett is taken from his “Creating a Culture” report which highlights as good practice behaviour policies which include: silent corridors; isolation rooms and behaviour ‘boot camps’. The language is that of discipline and sanctions rather than well-being and support.
The NEU carried out research with UCL/IoE on ‘Creating a sense of place and belonging in school’ and believes that this approach is what is needed going forward. The research found that schools which used a ‘belonging’ approach had:
- Improved behaviour
- Fewer exclusions
- Better staff retention
- Improved academic outcomes
There is a risk that using ‘selected’ schools as the ‘hub’ schools will lead to a ‘one size fits all’ approach to behaviour which focusses too much on discipline and sanctions and does little to address the wider issues which can lead to pupil misbehaviour in school when left unsupported such as: poor mental health, poverty, racial discrimination, SEND and undiagnosed SEND.
The criteria for selecting the ‘hub’ schools is based largely around assessment data and does not include their record on inclusion or exclusions.