Commenting on the Department for Education’s announcement of support for schools from behaviour experts, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“We support initiatives to promote good behaviour in schools.  Respectful, well ordered teaching and learning environments are essential for effective teaching and learning. But this announcement ignores the elephant in the room. Too many children's lives are getting much harder - many more are moving into care, are trapped in poverty, and have acute mental health conditions. This announcement ignores the practical barriers, for instance the unacceptable waiting lists for counselling for the under 18s.

The Government wants to pretend that ‘levelling up’ can be achieved solely through educational interventions, but it cannot. We have three decades of evidence showing that preventing and reducing pupil exclusions requires a multi-agency approach and collaboration across children's services.

“Levelling up must include restoring the funding that schools require for effective pastoral systems and time for teachers to share strategies and to work individually with children who are struggling. Supporting positive behaviour requires time for teachers to build strong relationships with students and their families and provide a range of interesting subjects, but recent curriculum changes and rising class sizes is making this much harder. 

“Heads and teachers are only too acutely aware of what they want to do more of in order to support students, but they can't because of funding and staffing cuts.  This frustration is one of the drivers of the teacher recruitment crisis and so Government must engage constructively with the profession if we're to find long term solutions.

“This announcement is silent about the pressures on disadvantaged schools, where more teachers are leaving. Gavin Williamson has once again made positive references to Ofsted, missing the unavoidable fact that it is Ofsted which drives teachers to leave the profession, not least from schools in areas of high poverty.”