This school. The identified learner is male,

This study will critically examine some aspects of barriers to learning of a student in a secondary school and identify and evaluate the inclusivity of a short term intervention and whether the barriers to learning remain. Qualitative and quantitative will inform the study and the strengths and limitations of the data used will be critically examined. Setting A is an 11 – 18 comprehensive school. The writer is the Assistant SENCO at the school. The identified learner is male, 13 and is in Year 8 (Child A) who on the SEND register but does not have an EHC plan. Internal barriers to learning for this child are social, emotional and mental health (SEMH). External barriers to learning are the quality and consistency of teachers and particular issues with supply or inexperienced teachers and the subsequent inconsistent approaches to managing his behaviour. Additional external barriers are the inflexibility of the behaviour policy of the school. The intervention chosen is an 8 week structured behaviour intervention delivered by the SENCO, an LA behaviour specialist, the TA supporting the child and by the various class teachers. The impact will be measured using quantitative data around exclusions, detentions, call-outs (removal from the classroom) and by the accumulation of positive achievement points. Qualitative data will also be used in the form of 1:1 reviews, mentoring discussions, staff reports including the LA specialist and parental feedback. The aim of the intervention will be to keep Child A in a mainstream setting averting a referral to the PRU and further exclusions. The right to attend the mainstream local school of the child’s and parents’ choice is a crucial part of this intervention. This study will, therefore, begin with an investigation into the definition of inclusion. In 1978 the Warnock Committee Report (DES 1978) was a landmark document which highlighted the case for inclusion and began the process of establishing modern inclusive practices. The Code of Practice 1994 and the 1994, UNESCO Conference furthered strengthened the inclusion agenda. Here, they called on governments to; “adopt as a matter of law or policy the principle of inclusive education, enrolling all children in regular schools, unless there are compelling reasons for doing otherwise.” The Salamanca Statement asserted that schools should accommodate children with SEN “within a child centred pedagogy capable of meeting their needs.” Additionally the national curriculum review made it clear that all teachers should think of themselves as teachers of SEN The revised Code of Practice January 2015 states that “all children and young people are entitled to an appropriate education, promotes high standards and the fulfilment of potential.” This education should enable them to “achieve their best, become confident individuals and make a successful transition into adulthood.” The 1994 Code of Practice created new categories of SEN among them behaviour, social and emotional development (BESD) which has since been replaced in the revised Code of Practice of 2015 with the term social, emotional and mental health difficulties (SEMH). The description of this broad area of need includes “displaying challenging, disruptive or disturbing behaviour.” The change in wording asks that those involved with the child/young person look past a student’s behaviour itself to the underlying causes and focus on what that behaviour is communicating. 6.21 of the 2015 revised Code of Practice makes it clear that “persistent disruptive or withdrawn behaviours do not necessarily mean that a child or young person has SEN.” The reference to causal factors such as” undiagnosed learning difficulties, difficulties with communication or mental health issues” requires an attitudinal shift in schools putting the focus on underlying and unmet need rather than the behaviour itself. This gives schools greater responsibility for identification and intervention both crucial factors in helping to support the child’s development and future life chances. Reinke, Splett, Robeson and Offutt (2009) show a clear link between aggressive and destructive behaviours in childhood and adolescence and academic failure, social rejection, and of delinquency in adulthood. Other research studies have demonstrated that children with behavioural problems are at risk of having depression, anxiety, and anti-social behaviours in adulthood. The aim of this study will be to investigate whether the inclusion of a child with social and emotional needs can work successfully in a mainstream environment given the competing needs of other children when the behaviour presented differs from the socially accepted norm. As Mel Ainscow points out “inclusion is a set of values and practices however that acceptance of the value and practices of inclusion (is) frequently resisted by practitioners who (see) themselves as having other priorities and as working within constraints that (make) inclusive practice impossible.” This intervention targeted a number of different areas: some demands to accommodate changes to teaching styles and methods, a planned short term behaviour intervention and support based on advice from the LA behaviour specialist , an additional 1:1 mentoring programme to better understand Child A’s understanding of his behaviour and his perception of its causes and impact, a targeted rewards system and better communication with parent. The major challenges faced were around the commitment and ability of staff to implement the programme consistently as a significant number of Child A’s teachers were supply or very inexperienced staff, the requirement for all staff involved with the child, including teaching assistants, to have some understanding of the child’s point of view and to be able to make accommodations to this The intervention relied strongly on attitudinal change both to the individual child and to the wider agenda around the inclusion of challenging pupils. Crucial to the intervention was the consistency of the approach to managing the behaviour. As the Dfe points out: “Effective inclusion relies on more than specialist skills and resources. It requires positive attitudes towards children who have difficulties in school, a greater responsiveness to individual needs and critically a willingness of staff to play their part.” Child A struggles to relate to staff and other students and is frequently isolated and excluded for acts of violence, refusal to follow instructions and disruptive behaviour. He is impulsive, lacks self-regulation and has an apparent lack of empathy. He finds it difficult to work cooperatively and has great difficulty with turn-taking. John Macbeath et al (2005: 60) found that, in general, most teachers were positive about inclusion but the larger issue for them was how they struggled with to provide for students with emotional and behavioural needs. In the Big Debate of 2006 Chris Woodhead expressed his concern about the impact of pupils with challenging behaviour on teachers and other children. Arguably behaviour presents the biggest challenge to inclusion. Including children with challenging behaviour in mainstream schools appears to lack the same moral purpose for teachers as other types of inclusion such as cognition or learning needs or sensory and/or physical needs. Students with challenging behaviour are often described as having an invisible need. Qualitative data revealed that many of Child A’s teachers have the view that he lacks the correct role models at home and is without the self-discipline or motivation to change his behaviour. They believe he can behave but lacks the will power to do so. According to Ekins and Grimes (2009) teachers often associated ‘inclusion’ with ‘exclusion’ while Ellis and Tod (2009) state that one of the distinguishing features of a pupil with challenging behaviour is the negative effect they may have on their peers. Teachers and leadership teams are under intense pressure to improve outcomes and equity issues are not of paramount concern. Gert Biesta (Good Education in an Age of Measurement: on the need to reconnect with the question of purpose in education: 2008) cogently describes how league tables have a distorting effect on provision “league tables have a complicated rationale, combining accountability and choice elements with a social justice argument which says that everyone should have access to education of the same quality. At the same time, the data used for producing such league tables are used to identify so-called ‘failing schools’ and, in some cases, ‘failing teachers’ within schools. Teachers, anxious about their classes’ performance and their own performance are disinclined to be accommodating to pupils who interrupt learning and cause additional stress.” In order to build a complete picture of the child’s behaviour prior to the intervention it was necessary to collect information from wide range of staff – leadership, teachers, and Teaching Assistants. This was done through the use of questionnaires asking a series of key questions about Child A’s behaviour. Questions were structured around what they regarded as specific and problematic behaviours, when and where they happened, why they thought these behaviours happened and how they responded to them. The answers to these formed the basis of a local authority referral to the behaviour support team by the SENCO. This referral triggered an initial assessment which the school paid for. Qualitative data collection also encompassed conversations with the pupil’s parents and the child. The perceptions of the child and the parents were very similar and largely focussed on the unfair treatment they felt the child was receiving. Child A particularly felt targeted and the parents’ view was that it was going to be difficult for their son to be successfully included in a mainstream school given his “reputation.” This “targeting” of their child had happened in the other schools he had attended. The Code of Practice underlines the importance of seeking the parents’ views and involving them in planning for any intervention, however, it was clear that the parents were wary and suspicious of schools and staff. Their previous experiences meant that they did not trust the motives behind the requests for information about their child and did not volunteer information about their home life or about any issues or concerns they themselves had with the child. They did not wish to engage with the plan other than to talk to the child when things had not gone well and gather his perceptions of any incidents, “his side of the story,” They also agreed to take a call home once a week to report on progress and to attend any meetings called. Their response confirmed the view of the leadership team and many staff that the behaviour of the child was a function of the parents’ oppositional views towards school in that they blamed what they saw as the inflexibility of teachers and the discipline system and refused to take responsibility for their child’s behaviour. This lack of congruence was problematic in terms of meaningful parental support and engagement but the parents’ view of the situation was not supported by the quantitative data. It was clear from qualitative data that Child A did present differently with different staff but the quantitative data around his exclusions (4) classroom call-outs (102 removals from class), detentions (52), and behaviour (178 negative points) and reward points (38) made a strong case for intervention. It is often difficult to draw significant conclusions from this type of quantitative and qualitative data as staff can be very different in terms of their resilience and also the behaviour boundaries they set. As Tom Bennett, the government’s “behaviour Czar” (appointed 2015) has commented it is hard to measure the comparability of responses particularly to this type of qualitative data. He argues that what constitutes good behaviour to one teacher may represent poor behaviour to another. Standards of tolerance vary enormously. In addition staff do not always wish to bring their struggles with a child to the attention of the leadership team believing that this will be judged as a deficit and that their teaching capability will come under question. Qualitative measures like ‘good’ and ‘acceptable’ can, then, mean many things. Hence requests for information were requested anonymously to increase the validity of the responses and 11 teachers out of 15 reported that the inclusion of this pupil caused them and other pupils in the class a great deal of anxiety. They expressed concerns over their ability to maintain control with this student in the class and reported constant low level and many more direct challenges to the teachers’ authority. Staff also reported concerns about their safety and the safety of other pupils as objects were thrown around the room and Child A had, at times, left his seat and gone to another child in the class and hit him or her. Planning for the intervention involved meeting all staff who teach the child and incorporated the feedback from the initial assessment by the LA behaviour specialist. The intervention was structured around a focus on four key undesirable behaviours, an identification of trigger points for these, strategies for dealing with them, a description of expected outcomes and a measurement of impact which would be both quantitative – verbal feedback to a questionnaire from staff, parents and Child A using the same set of questions presented at the start and the end, and quantitative using behaviour data – exclusions, call-outs, behaviour and achievement points and rewards. The intervention relied on a consistent approach by all staff working with Child A. In Making Schools Effective for All: Rethinking the Task Mel Ainscow*, Alan Dyson, Sue Goldrick and Mel West: (2012) the point is made that, “equity requires practitioners who understand the importance of teaching the same thing in different ways to different students.” This is difficult to achieve in a large school where there are many people working with the same child, however, highly consistent working practices were crucial to the success of this intervention. The assignment of one experienced and highly qualified TA to Child A was to try to mitigate the effect of constant changes of teacher and also to enable the TA to become very familiar with the child and also the strategies used in the intervention so that they could advise supply staff, in particular, and help maintain consistency. Clarke et al. (1999) suggested that the use of in-class support was probably the single most important factor in enabling pupils with special educational needs to be maintained in mainstream classrooms. The weaknesses of this approach were that the TA had to be able to maintain a good working relationship with the teacher which was not always possible with some teaching staff who did not regard the TA as a source of professional support and saw any intervention by the TA as a challenge to the teacher’s classroom autonomy. An additional concern was that Child A would become too dependent on the TA (Gizzard 2011). A degree of separation marks out the child supported by a TA especially when part of the plan involves a time out strategy which mitigates against the inclusivity of the intervention. The Time Out strategy which was a strong feature of the intervention, comes at the expense of teaching time and interaction with peers which suggests that progress will be slower and that some of the targets focusses on building social skills will be lost, however as a number of studies suggest many pupils who are currently educated in mainstream schools would not be effectively managed in those schools without the support provided by teaching assistants (Florian and Rose 2001, Fox 2001) A further factor that mitigates against inclusion is that Child A is seen as different and “other” by other pupils In this case it was The intervention also included a weekly mentoring session which lasts for half an hour with the SENCO. The aim of this was to help Child A make a positive relationships with a member of staff, discuss issues and talk to about his progress .This involved Child A missing tutor time which lasts for half an hour once a week. In line with the Code of Practice 2014 this enabled additional provision normally available to pupils of the same age. Tutor time was chosen because it would not be as evident to other pupils that Child A was missing from the session which was at the start of the day, however, it soon became clear that other pupils knew that this was happening which did not result in any bullying but contributed to the sense of “otherness around Child A. This aspect of the intervention was not inclusive but Child A appeared unconcerned about missing tutor time and was not, anyway apparently concerned about the views of other children in the school. However, he was keen that a neutral environment was chosen and not the Learning Support Area. He was keen that he was not regarded as “special” in the way that other children were who spent a lot of time in this area. It was interesting that wished to disassociate himself from the category of special educational needs which did not appear to be based on any external evaluation of the perceptions of other students but on his own notions of self. The mentoring was particularly useful because it enabled a focus on what was going well and why some things had been problematic. This helped with Child A’s issue around not being listened to not being able to put his own view of events forward. The Code of Practice strongly supports the view that young people should be listened to and should be able raise concerns and Child A appreciated the time taken to listen and consider his perceptions. A particular issue in implementing this intervention was the behaviour policy of the school which describes itself as zero tolerance and quickly escalates misdemeanours into serious behaviour (classroom call-outs) and a consequent lack of external rewards. It was necessary to ensure that there was a very clear strategy for responding to inappropriate behaviour which was consistent across the staff teaching him. This was difficult to achieve as there were a number of supply staff and inexperienced staff in key subject areas. Consistency was the key but that was difficult to achieve. It was not always possible to, for example, to encourage staff to adapt the behaviour system and use the resources provided such as the green, red and amber cards or the random name generator. Child A sometimes entered the room and was sent out within a few minutes because of inappropriate language or a particular incident. Frankly, whilst agreeing generally with the broad aims of inclusion some staff simply do not believe that they should have to accommodate pupils who exhibit challenging behaviour. The view of some staff is that it is not possible to treat some children differently. The perceptions of other pupils was interesting in this context. Most of them were tolerant of the adaptations to the behaviour system for Child A because their notions about his otherness were firmly embedded. This was reinforced by his apparent but strongly evident disdain for their opinions. They appreciated the Time Out strategy because it resulted in fewer disruptions in class. In conclusion this study has addressed the identified external barriers that Child A faced in the classroom, by putting in place a short term behaviour intervention. Both quantitative and qualitative data were used to evaluate although there were issues about the validity of some of the data. The impact of the intervention was shown through an overall reduction in exclusions, lesson call-outs and behaviour points and Child A reported that he felt more successful which was born out in terms of a higher number of achievement points. Further questions remain about the long term impact of such an intervention given that some elements have been subsequently removed due to cost implications and staffing issues – some TA provision and the mentoring.