Page last updated at 05:54 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 06:54 UK

'Step in early to curb truancy'

Professor Ken Reid
Chair of the steering group

Prof Ken Reid
Professor Ken Reid
Our report into behaviour and attendance in Wales is the result of almost two years detailed investigation.

I believe that if our recommendations to the Welsh Assembly Government are followed, there is a considerable possibility that we can make great strides in managing pupils' behaviour and attendance in Wales.

Let me discuss some of our key findings and the reasons for them.

First, we believe that all teachers and child welfare professionals in Wales should receive significant training in behaviour management.

Second, we consider that there should be much earlier intervention with pupils who manifest behaviour and attendance problems. Our evidence suggests that many pupils begin their histories of poor behaviour and non-attendance in primary schools, often as early as five or seven years of age.

Earlier intervention will enable us to nip these problems in the bud rather than reaching the persistent stage.

I believe there needs to be changes made to our existing guidelines on exclusion with a regulatory shake-up. This will require new legislation by the Welsh Assembly Government. We need to end the practice of both "unofficial exclusions" and "negotiated exclusions." There needs to be a further look at managed moves protocol and guidance.

By following the suggestions in my report we should hopefully keep more pupils in school leaving them less free to roam the streets during school time.

Our evidence from children and young people suggests that they understand the reasons why pupils should attend school regularly and behave well when in learning situations.

At the same time, I believe there should be a policy of zero tolerance on violence against teachers and pupils against pupils. To achieve this, I believe the Welsh Assembly Government should strengthen its guidance on physical intervention and restraint.

I also believe that every secondary school should have a named senior professional responsible for behaviour, attendance and parental liaison. This person should be allocated sufficient time to undertake the job. Equally, every local authority in Wales should have its own behavioural support team or a shared unit with a neighbouring authority.

I also consider that some of the new assembly government initiatives should help implement the ideas in the report. These include the Foundation Phase Initiative, the Learning Coaches concept, Curriculum 2008 and the 14-19 Initiative. Many of our disaffected pupils require more vocational rather than academic opportunities.

To achieve this, I believe we need to ensure that all our pupils should be able to read and write by the time they leave primary school. Otherwise, they will fall further behind and are likely to become increasingly disaffected.

Prof Reid is the deputy vice-chancellor of Swansea Metropolitan University and chair of the steering group behind the the National Behaviour and Attendace Review (NBAR) report.

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