Page last updated at 09:50 GMT, Monday, 30 March 2009 10:50 UK

Action over truancy and behaviour


Teachers will receive better training on dealing with badly-behaved pupils

The role of parents is being emphasised in a new action plan to promote positive behaviour and attendance at schools in Wales.

The Behaving and Attending report marks the assembly government's response to a two-year study into truancy.

It also looks at raising levels of literacy in young people, improve teacher training.

Education minister Jane Hutt said: "We want to see all of our young people reach their full potential".

Launched at Fitzalan High School in Cardiff, the document is intended to shape the direction and pace of the assembly government's policy on truancy.

The National Behaviour and Attendance Review published last May found a clear link between low literacy and behavioural and attendance problems.

It also found a large number of professionals feel under-trained in handling attendance and behavioural problems and that the number of pupils out of school was not properly monitored.

Professor Ken Reid of Swansea Metropolitan University, the report's author, said there should be a more co-ordinated effort between schools and agencies to tackle the problem.

He also said pupils who truanted were getting younger.

"Truancy used to be purely a secondary phenomenon. Now we have 35% of all truants begin their history of non attendance in primary schools.

"For reasons we don't fully understand, parents become disengaged with their children's education much earlier and they stop taking their children to school.

"Tackling and supporting parents is key but ensuring that as soon as pupils start to manifest problems we are working with them, we are helping to support them, we are giving them the one to one tuition they need."

Its key goals are to raise levels of literacy among young people and offer better training for teaching professionals.

The plan also emphasises the important role that parents have to play in working with schools, local authorities and the local communities to improving how young people behave in Wales.

A guide to behaviour in schools, Safe and Effective Intervention, will be produced to cover physical intervention, new powers to search for weapons and new legislation on discipline.

Support local authorities, schools and other learning settings and their partners to provide effective and inclusive education
Involve children and young people fully in the decision-making process
Improve school attendance
Improve behaviour at school and other learning settings
Make schools a safer place for students and teachers
Ensure students and their families know what support they may have if they are excluded
Consolidate ongoing work on anti-bullying
Make sure every child and young person knows who they can go to at school if they have a problem
Develop the support available for parents whose children have behaviour problems
Ensure all teachers and other school staff are equipped to work effectively with their students and have the skills to deal with attendance and behaviour problems
Source: Behaving and Attending

'Good practice'

Launching the action plan, the education minister acknowledged that attendance and behaviour would not improve overnight.

But, Ms Hutt added, the scheme would set out short, medium and long-term actions aimed at creating a culture of early intervention, effective support and good practice.

She said: "One of our key priorities is improving levels of literacy, as recommended by the independent review group, to ensure that every child can succeed.

"Educational achievement often leads to good employment opportunities in the future and also ensure that young people aren't culturally and socially excluded."

'Early intervention'

Ms Hutt said the plan stressed the important role that schools and local authorities had in identifying behaviour and attendance issues.

Early intervention was essential, she said, to make sure that quality support was available to avoid young people being disengaged or losing self esteem.

"Parents also have an integral part to play in supporting and encouraging their children," she added.

"As part of the action plan we want schools to continue to strengthen links with families to ensure that the necessary support is available should a child have behavioural or academic problems or difficulty in school with bullying for example."

The launch of the action plan follows ten months after the publication of the National Behaviour and Attendance Review (NBAR).

The review was carried out by a steering group made up of teachers, academics, and representatives of children's charities, police and social agencies.

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