Behavioural experts to be sent into schools

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The Independent Online

Behavioural consultants are to be sent into secondary schools across Britain as part of a drive to eliminate disruptive acts by pupils.

Behavioural consultants are to be sent into secondary schools across Britain as part of a drive to eliminate disruptive acts by pupils.

From September a national network of behaviour experts will show teachers how to control antisocial students while keeping the attention of the rest of the class.

Schools will also be urged to re-examine the timing of the school day to minimise disruptive students' opportunities to cause trouble and to use out-of-school clubs to support formal lessons. Staff will be encouraged to make their lessons more exciting after evidence that students lose interest during the middle of sessions if they have not been well planned.

Teachers will be trained to recognise the signs that a student is becoming disenchanted with their studies and at risk of becoming disruptive.

Although the initiative is not compulsory, ministers believe all schools could benefit from it, not just those where pupil behaviour is a severe problem.

The problem of bad behaviour in schools has proved a difficult issue for the Government to tackle. Charles Clarke, the Secretary of State for Education, recently admitted that disruptive behaviour was a "very serious and deep-seated" problem for some schools. Research commissioned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has found that teachers were being driven out of the profession by bad behaviour in class.

Since his appointment in October, Mr Clarke has announced a range of headline-grabbing initiatives to tackle the issue, including bringing in Army officers to run one-on-one tutorials for disruptive children and doubling police patrols outside schools.

The behaviour clampdown will run alongside a new "intervention programme", which will encourage more secondary schools to identify pupils aged 11 and 12 who are falling behind their classmates and help them to catch up. It will be followed in the summer of next year by a campaign to tackle the problem of thousands of children who fall behind when they transfer from primary to secondary school.

The NUT warned that the strategy would fail if it ignored teachers' existing expertise in favour of "top-down prescription" from central government.

John Bangs, the union's head of education, said: "We have no problem with the idea of more training – some of it is very good – but what is needed is separate special schools for when kids are so difficult that they cannot stay in a mainstream school."

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