Monday, 25 July 2011

Behaviour and Discipline in Schools - Guidance for Governing Bodies

The Department of Education have replaced more than 600 pages of guidance with 52 pages.
The DfE have published the final, clearer guidance for teachers on how they should deal with bad behaviour. This guidance will be used by schools from the start of the new academic year this coming September.
The DfE claim that as previous behaviour and search guidance was more than 600 pages long. It left teachers confused about their powers under the law. It also made it much harder for schools to have clear and effective discipline policies.
The new guidance is 52 pages longis said to reflect feedback from teachers, teacher unions and local authorities. It clearly sets out the roles and responsibilities for governing bodies, headteachers and teachers regarding behaviour and discipline. It unequivocally restores adult authority to the classroom. It makes clear:
• Schools should not have a ‘no touch’ policy. It is often necessary or desirable for a teacher to touch a child (e.g. dealing with accidents or teaching musical instruments).
• Teachers have a legal power to use reasonable force. They can use force to remove a pupil who is disrupting a lesson or to prevent a child leaving a classroom.
• Heads can search without consent for an extended list of items including alcohol, illegal drugs and stolen property.
• Heads have the power to discipline pupils who misbehave outside the schools premises and outside schools hours.
• Schools must have measures in place to deal with bullying both in and outside of school.
The guidance also protects teachers from malicious allegations:
• Heads can temporarily or permanently exclude pupils who make false allegations. In extreme circumstances, they can involve the police if there are grounds for believing a criminal offence has been committed.
• Schools should not automatically suspend teachers accused of using force unreasonably where other alternatives exist.
• All but the tiny number of the most complex cases should be resolved within three months and the vast majority should be resolved in four weeks.
• Malicious, unsubstantiated or unfounded allegations should not be included in employment references.
The Role of Governors
1. Under Section 88(1) of the Education and Inspections Act 2006 (EIA),governing bodies must ensure that policies designed to promote good behaviour and discipline on the part of its pupils are pursued at the school.
2. Section 88(2) of the EIA requires the governing body to: a. make, and from time to time review, a written statement of general principles to guide the head teacher in determining measures to promote good behaviour and discipline amongst pupils; and
b. notify the head teacher and give him or her related guidance if the governing body wants the school’s behaviour policy to include particular measures or address particular issues.
3. When carrying out the functions under Section 88(2), the governing body must have regard to guidance issued by the Secretary of State.
Paragraphs 6-11 below provide this statutory guidance.
4. Before making their statement of principles, the governing body must consult (in whatever manner they think appropriate) the head teacher, school staff, parents and pupils.
5. The Governors’ Guide to the law provides information on governors’other legal duties. See the Associated Resources section below for a link to the Guide.
What must the governing body do?
6. The governing body must provide clear advice and guidance to the head teacher on which he/she can base the school behaviour policy.
7. This is particularly important in respect of teachers’ powers to search,
to use reasonable force and to discipline pupils for misbehaviour outside school. Although these powers may look straightforward in legal terms, they are not always fully understood by staff, pupils and parents, and staff can feel particularly vulnerable to challenge if they use them.
8. Clear advice and guidance from the governing body, which feeds directly into the behaviour policy, will help members of staff better understand the extent of their powers and how to use them. It will also help ensure that staff can be confident of the governing body’s support if they follow that guidance.
9. While it is for each governing body to decide their own principles, we would always expect the governing body to notify the head teacher that the following should be covered in the school behaviour policy:
a. Screening and searching pupils;
b. The power to use reasonable force or make other physical contact;
c. The power to discipline beyond the school gate;
d. Pastoral care for school staff accused of misconduct; and
e. When a multi-agency assessment should be considered for pupils who display continuous disruptive behaviour.
10. In providing guidance to the head teacher, the governing body must not seek to hinder teachers’ powers by including ‘no searching’ or ‘no contact’ policies, nor to restrict their power to discipline pupils for misbehaviour outside of school.
11. Governing bodies will also wish to consider their duty under section 175 of the Education Act 2002 requiring them to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are carried out with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and their general duty to eliminate discrimination under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.Screening and searching and the power to use reasonable force
12. Separate guidance is available on searching and on the use of force and governing bodies should draw on this to inform their guidance to the head teacher. The power to discipline beyond the school gate
13. Disciplining beyond the school gate covers the school’s response to all non-criminal bad behaviour and bullying which occurs anywhere off the school premises and which is witnessed by a member of staff or reported to the school. The governing body must be satisfied that the measures proposed by the head teacher are lawful.
14. The governing body will need to ask the head teacher to consider what the school’s response should be to:
Any bad behaviour when the child is:
 taking part in any school-organised or school-related activity or
 travelling to or from school or
 wearing school uniform or
 in some other way identifiable as a pupil at the school.
Or, misbehaviour at any time, whether or not the conditions above apply, that:
 could have repercussions for the orderly running of the school or
 poses a threat to another pupil or member of the public or
 could adversely affect the reputation of the school.
15. In all of these circumstances the head teacher should also consider whether it is appropriate to notify the police or anti-social behaviour coordinator in their local authority of the actions taken against a pupil.
If the behaviour is criminal or poses a serious threat to a member of the public,the police should always be informed. In addition, school staff should consider whether the misbehaviour may be linked to the child suffering, or being likely to suffer, significant harm. In this case the school staff should follow its safeguarding policy.
Pastoral care for school staff

16. Employers should not automatically suspend a member of staff who has been accused of misconduct, pending an investigation. The governing body should instruct the head teacher to draw on the advice in the ‘Dealing with Allegations of Abuse against Teachers and Other Staff’ guidance when vetting out the pastoral support school staff can expect to receive if they are accused of misusing their powersFull Report

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