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Behaviour and attendance e-newsletter – spring 2010

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Message from the Programme Director

Welcome to the spring edition of the behaviour, attendance and social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) e-newsletter.

Autumn term 2009 was a busy one for the behaviour, attendance and SEAL programme taking in:

  • delivery of a new persistent absence (PA) strategy based on new data, supported by a number of regional events for schools and local authorities (LAs) and
  • a response to the Behaviour Challenge, informed by the Steer Review (April 2009), a review undertaken by the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit last summer and a new Ofsted inspection framework, introduced in September 2009.

Both activities capture our key priorities on reducing PA (in view of the 2011 Children’s Plan goal) and our ambition to secure good behaviour in all schools, as outlined in the Pupil and Parent Guarantees in the White Paper, Your child, your schools, our future: building a 21st century schools system (June 2009). Since then there has been considerable success within Behaviour, Attendance and SEAL. Where we have focused our efforts in partnership with priority LAs, persistent absence is being reduced, and securing good behaviour in schools boosted.

However, challenges remain in that we need to achieve all LAs having no more that five per cent of secondary pupils with PA by 2011; some LAs still remain off trajectory to achieve this at present. Also, we need to support LAs in preparing schools to respond effectively to the demands of the new Ofsted inspection framework. An analysis of recent inspections suggests that some schools are struggling to achieve or maintain a good behaviour judgement.

Integral to continuing positive trends in reducing PA and improving behaviour will be the work that LAs embark upon in consolidating approaches to develop social and emotional skills, alongside strategies to address bullying and encourage parental responsibility in schools. In this context, three successful territorial events for LAs and schools took place in autumn 2009 to assess progress on programme priorities in 60 tracker schools (30 in each phase). They looked at the outcomes, together with an external study being undertaken by the University of Sussex that will inform the production of guidance in spring 2010 on effective practice. This guidance will be disseminated through subsequent events in 2010.

Other successful events in the autumn term included regional networks that focused on disproportionate exclusions and PA, in relation to pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). These networks were led jointly with the SEND programme. Continuing with the theme of narrowing gaps, the programme team will also be contributing to both the universal and targeted events this term on the under-performance of pupils receiving free school meals (FSM).

Partnerships are fundamental to our work as is professional development, particularly in relation to the vision set out in the White Paper, signalling a changing landscape with local solutions and schools taking responsibility for their own improvement will come to the fore. In response, we continue to promote the development of school partnerships in line with the ten characteristics outlined in the Steer Review, as well as the National Programme for Specialist Leaders in Behaviour and Attendance (NPSLBA), which equips staff with the leadership skills and confidence to improve behaviour and attendance in our schools.

Our regional network meetings this term will focus on the role of school partnerships in view of current legislation. We will also be looking specifically at the links between narrowing gaps and safeguarding, as well as how we can work with LAs to build confidence and resources, at both a strategic and operational level, to commission services effectively in the future, utilising the integrated self-review framework (SRF).

The SRF has now been piloted in a number of LAs and is aligned with local performance management processes, supporting LAs in building sustainable capacity to address programme priorities in the future. It combines the range of tools available to LAs and schools to help assess current practice, identify areas for improvement and plan for action. These tools include the securing good behaviour framework, the improving attendance review and the tool for school partnerships to inform reporting to Children’s Trusts. The framework is being revised in response to the pilot and will be considered at the regional meetings this term.

We hope that you will find the forthcoming regional events helpful in preparing for the future and that working with regional teams is enhanced further and developed more deeply. We look forward to working with you in securing an appropriate offer of support in 2010–11 that engages with your priorities and needs in achieving positive outcomes of children and young people in your local communities.

Marilyn Toft, Programme Director, Behaviour and Attendance