The ContinU Plus Academy is an alternative provision free school. On opening the ContinU Plus Academy was one of the first of its kind. Since its conception as a team of professionals, staff have used current research and high quality CPD to establish excellent behaviour management techniques, care and challenge for the pupils at our school.
We are now signed up to work with the Institute for Public Policy Research to develop a national qualification for training outstanding practitioners in the alternative provision sector.
The IPPR has recently published a document called making the difference which successfully highlights risk factors leading to behavioural issues in an exclusion from mainstream education.
The following section clearly highlights the risk factors demonstrable in the ContinU plus Academy’s pupil cohort.
WHO GETS EXCLUDED AND WHY? 2.1 THE DEMOGRAPHICS OF EXCLUSION
Our research has highlighted that there are several vulnerabilities – or risk factors – that increase the likelihood of a child being excluded. These include living in poverty; experiencing abuse and neglect at home; having a learning difficulty; having low attainment in school; and suffering from a mental health condition.
Overwhelmingly, excluded children are poorer children. For example, 55 per cent of 5–10-year-olds and 40 per cent of 11–15-year-olds in schools for excluded pupils6 are eligible for free school meal
compared to 14 per cent of the pupil population at large (DfE 2017c). On average, poorer young people are four times more likely to be excluded than their wealthier peers (DfE 2017a).
Unsafe family environment
Children who have been taken into care are twice as likely to be excluded as those who have not (DfE 2017d). Moreover, ‘children in need’ – whose home lives have prompted interaction with social services but who remain in their home environment – fare even worse: they are three times more likely to be excluded from their school than other pupils.
Special educational needs
Nearly eight in ten children (77 per cent) in schools for excluded children have recognised special educational needs or disability (SEND) (DfE 2017c). Those with a recognised need are seven times more likely to be excluded than their peers without SEND, suggesting that their needs may be a causal factor in exclusion (DfE 2017a).
Poor mental health
In 2015/16, one in fifty children in the general population was recognised as having a social, emotional and mental health need (SEMH) (DfE 2017e). In schools for excluded pupils this rose to one in two. Yet the incidence of mental ill health among excluded pupils is likely to be much higher than these figures suggest. Only half of children with clinically diagnosed conduct disorders and a third of children with similarly diagnosed emotional disorders are recognised in their schools as having special educational needs (ONS 2005). This means the proportion of excluded children with mental health problems is likely closer to 100 per cent.
Low prior attainment
Pupils who leave primary schools with the lowest skill levels are most likely to be excluded from school. The most recent data available on this is a 2011 longitudinal analysis of exclusions in England, using the National Pupil Database (Strand and and social exclusion 17 Fletcher 2011). This showed a strong relationship between a pupil’s Key Stage 2 score, and the average number of fixed-period exclusions across their secondary school career; with the average number of exclusions for the lowest-attaining pupils 15 times that of the highest-attaining pupils (ibid).
2.2 COMPLEX NEEDS
The vulnerabilities – or risk factors – set out above are often closely linked to one another and are therefore mutually reinforcing (see table 2.1). We think of children with one or more of these intersecting vulnerabilities as having ‘complex needs’ which raise challenges in supporting them to succeed in education.
Kiran Gill, with Harry Quilter-Pinner and Danny Swift – October 2017
Given the vulnerability of our learners the ContinU Plus Academy’s journey in managing, changing and understanding behaviour has been profound. We have always had an ethos of understanding and positive regard but our practice has been successfully honed over the last five years.
The potted history of behaviour at the CPA
September 2013 -14
- Opened with cohort of 25 pupils in porta cabins with scarce resources.
- Pupils had been referred from a local PRU and displayed extremely anti-social and aggressive behaviour.
- Raise point system introduced
- Fixed term exclusions were proportionately high
- Staff trained in safeguarding, positive handling and persistent positivity
- Reward trips were introduced
- Year 11 reward trip to Paris
- Fully functional new build school designed to eliminate bullying spaces and points of conflict in the school day
- Weekly rewards introduced
- Expectations were normalised
- Improved staff – student relationships
- Initial attachment disorder training
- First parent days
- Whole school assemblies
- Lowest rates of exclusion
- High attendance
- Established school ethos
- RAISE – a common language across the school
- A real family environment
- More stringent staff CPD and performance management programme
- Vertical tutor groups
- Appointment of strategic school leaders
- Pastoral leads – whole school and key stages
- Continued reduction in behaviour incidents
- Peer mentors
- Termly parent days
- Greater governor involvement with students
- Demonstrable increase in parent and pupil wellbeing
- Continued falling fixed term exclusions
- Headteacher provides quality assurance and training for other headteachers
- Developing training packages on behaviour for mainstream and alternative provision schools
- Working with a national alternative provision steering group to improve the status of alternative provision nationally and the offer to vulnerable learners
- Becoming an advocate for vulnerable learners on the local authority SEND advisory group
We will work it out…