Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs) are multi-agency teams which draw together a full range of specialist support for vulnerable young people and their families. In many areas, however, these teams are being superseded by Targeted Youth Support Teams with similar aims but a broader remit.
Behaviour and Education Support Teams aim to promote emotional well-being, positive mental health, positive behaviour and school attendance among children and young people; and to help in the identification and support of those with, or at risk of developing, emotional and behavioural problems, through the provision of multi-agency support in target schools and to individual families. BESTs work in partnership with a cluster of primary schools and one or two secondary schools: this may include Pupil Referral Units or schools for pupils with emotional, behavioural and social difficulties. BESTs offer support at three broad levels:
- the whole school including developing school strategies, curriculum input and consultancy work with individual school staff;
- group support for children and their parents (for example nurture groups, transition groups, parenting groups) according to local need; and
- intensive support for individual children and families on a case-management basis (for example counseling, family therapy).
Relevance for teachers
BESTs may be based in Local Authority premises, in the community or in schools. Schools with BESTs include those with a high percentage of pupils with, or at risk of developing, behavioural problems, often identified by exclusion and attendance rates. Schools with this support find that the access to services, as well as the acquisition of skills and strategies for managing challenging behaviour and emotional difficulties, can be helpful. Pupils may be referred, via the SENCO or other senior member of staff, according to school policy and procedures.
The teams may include clinical and educational psychologists, education welfare officer, health visitor, school nurses, social and family workers, speech and language workers as well as behaviour support staff. Sometimes youth and Connexions workers are included too. Some teams specialise in early intervention work, others in more complex cases.
Department for Education and Skills (DfES) (2003) Good Practice Guidance for Behaviour and Education Support Teams. London: DfES.
Hallam, S., Castle, F. and Rogers, L. with Creech, A., Rhamie, J. and Kokotsaki, D. (2005) Research and Evaluation of the Behaviour Improvement Programme. Research Report 702. London: DfES.
Hallam, S. and Rogers, L. (2008) Improving Behaviour and Attendance at School; Milton Keynes: Open University Press
OFSTED (2001) Improving Attendance and Behaviour in Secondary Schools. London: HMSO
Turner, C. (2003) How effective and inclusive is the school's behaviour policy? Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 8(1):7-18.