04 SES 01 E, Inclusion, Exclusion and Students 'Challenging Behaviour': Critical Perspectives
The inclusion of all children is a key policy objective in many countries, and international agencies promote education as a facilitator of an individual’s development, irrespective of any barriers (physical, social or emotional) (UNESCO, 2005). The vision of developing inclusive schools has called for inclusive education and inclusive pedagogy that support the participation of all children in schools (Black-Hawkins and Florian, 2012).
In Scotland a raft of legislation reinforces the policy of inclusion (Riddell, 2009) promoting the development of positive relationships and inclusion in learning environments. Based on the recent OECD report on Scottish education Scottish schools are inclusive (OECD, 2015). According to the statistics, there is a steady increase in the proportion of children with additional support needs (ASN) in mainstream Scottish schools (Scottish Government, 2008) with the number of children characterised as having social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD) being 22.35% of the number of pupils for whom reason for support has been reported (Scottish Government, 2016a).
Behaviour in schools is a continuing policy concern internationally (Brown and Winterton 2010). Research has shown that pupils' behaviour stresses teachers and in several cases it is the reason for resigning from the profession (Ingersoll, 2001). Disruptive pupil behaviour in the classroom is the most frequently occurring problem for most countries (DfE, 2012). Indeed, much of the literature suggests that the most common form of pupil misbehaviour is ‘low-level’ frequent disruption (Munn et al., 2004; Ofsted, 2005). However, there is a geographical difference with regards to disruptive behaviour as US, Scotland, England and Italy reported higher rates than the Russian Federation and Japan (Miller et al, 2009).
Many countries develop policies to promote inclusion of all pupils, including those whose behaviour is considered as ‘challenging’, in mainstream schools (Wearmouth and Glynn,2004). Similarly, in Scotland, behaviour policies have been developed as disruptive behaviour, failure to obey rules and abuse are the most common reasons for exclusion (Munn et al.,2001). However, the number of exclusions has been falling since 2006/07 (Scottish Government,2016b) representing schools' and local authorities' efforts to adopt a range of approaches to engage children and young people in their education.
Research shows the different approaches that are used in schools to achieve greater inclusion including restorative and nurturing approaches, but also the challenges that schools experience (Black et al.,2012). However, there are different ways to achieve greater inclusion and there is little knowledge on the approaches and strategies that teachers and pupils find most helpful and on the different adaptations of these approaches in different schools. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify practices that are considered to be effective and explore their variant adaptations in different schools. The following questions will be addressed: What approaches and practices are considered by teachers to be effective in terms of behaviour support? What are the differences in the adaptations of similar approaches adopted by different secondary mainstream schools? What are the important characteristics that can make an approach effective?
Taking into consideration the Scottish Attainment Challenge, the emphasis on positive relationships and behaviour (Scottish Government, 2013) as well as the link between learning and behaviour (Head, 2005) (such as for example the association of school-level behaviour approaches with improvements in attainment) it is important to explore the most effective and beneficial for pupils, approaches and practices that have been adopted by secondary mainstream schools in Scotland, based on the views of teachers who are directly involved in supporting pupils. The research is funded by the British Academy(BA/Leverhulme Small Research Grants).
For this research, the necessary procedures for ethical compliance were followed. Also, permission had to be obtained from the Directors of Education of each Local Authority in order to contact the schools. A mixed methods approach was used. Initially an online questionnaire was sent to secondary mainstream schools in order to identify the approaches that schools have adopted and the effective practices on behaviour support. The results of the questionnaires also facilitated the identification of the sample of teachers who would be interviewed. Thereafter, semi-structured interviews were conducted with six teachers from six schools (schools from different local authorities) who are directly involved in supporting pupils, such as the principal teacher of behaviour support, the principal teacher of support for learning and additional support needs and teachers of support for learning. Through the interviews I explored the effective practices that the schools have adopted and the characteristics of these approaches that make them effective based on the teachers' views. The interviews were audio recorded and later transcribed and used as data for analysis. The collected data were analysed using thematic analysis and the software package NVivo in order to explore the elements of these practices and also contrast the schools’ different adaptations and their characteristics.
This research is ongoing. The expected results will lead to a deeper understanding about the different approaches and practices that have been adopted by different schools in Scotland. We will be able to better understand what characterises effective behaviour support in schools from the perspective of teachers who are directly involved in supporting pupils. Moreover, the results will contribute important knowledge regarding the relationship between learning and behaviour and the challenges experienced by teachers. I have collected the data and started with the data analysis. Some of the themes that emerge include a proactive approach, the mindset and beliefs of the members of staff. The findings will invite reflection on the different practices, the culture of schools, the existing belief systems and teachers’ training. Also, this work has many practical implications as examples of good practice regarding the provision of support in schools will be shared. By strengthening the provision of support in schools it is anticipated that pupils’ learning and well-being will be affected positively. Given that behaviour in schools is a continuing policy concern internationally, the findings from this study can be used to further develop the provision of support in schools in Scotland and beyond.
Black, C., Chamberlain, V., Murray, L., Sewel, K. and Skelton, J. (2012) Behaviour in Scottish Schools 2012 Final Report. Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
Black-Hawkins, K. and Florian, L. (2012) 'Classroom Teachers' Craft Knowledge of their Inclusive Practice', Teachers and Teaching, 18 (5), pp. 567-584.
Brown, J., and Winterton, M. (2010) Violence in UK schools: What is really happening?. London: British Educational Research Association.
Department for Education (DfE) (2012) Pupil behaviour in schools in England: Education Standards Analysis and Research Division Department for Education. London: DfE.
Head, G. (2005) ‘'Better learning-better behaviour’, Scottish Educational Review, 37 (2), pp. 94-103.
Ingersoll, R.M. (2001) 'Teacher turnover and teacher shortages: An organisational analysis', American Educational Research Journal, 38(3), pp. 499-534.
Miller, D.C; Sen, A; Malley, A.B; and Burns, S.D (2009) Comparative Indicators of Education in the United States and other G-8 Countries: 2009 (NCES 2009-039) Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S Department of Education
Munn, P. , Cullen, M., A , Johnstone, M. and Lloyd, G. (2001) 'Exclusion from school: a view from Scotland of policy and practice', Research Papers in Education, 16(1), pp. 23-42
Munn, P., Johnstone, M. and Sharp, S. (2004) Discipline in Scottish Schools: A comparative survey over time of teachers' and headteachers' perceptions. Available at: https://www2.gov.scot/Publications/2004/11/20255/46683 (30 January 2019)
Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) (2005) Managing challenging behaviour HMI 2363 Available at https://dera.ioe.ac.uk/5269/7/Managing%20challenging%20behaviour%20%28PDF%20format%29_Redacted.pdf (30 January 2019).
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2015) Improving schools in Scotland: An OECD perspective. Available at:
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