The governing body, which will include senior staff, in essence, support and monitors the strategic direction of the school, whereas the in-house leadership team is responsible for the day to day implementation of the strategy.
This latter is easy to type, but can require multiple layers of organisation, dissemination and regular review. Within these multiple layers, usually of delegation, it is easy to add additional requirements in seeking to evidence that the policy has been enacted. I would suggest that this is likely to be caused by the need to report back up the “chain of command”. It can have the impact of diminishing the original intention and adding to the day to day burdens of the class teachers.
The analogy that is brought to mind is an “In case of” situation, planning for the unexpected; in case of fire, fighting etc. There is a need for proactive planning of processes that support reasoned responses to different situations, to enable speedy, effective de-escalation of an issue. Effectively, everyone knows “which button to press” to get help and additional support as necessary. In the absence of clear processes, reactions can exacerbate a situation.
Where the school management perceive a holistic model, describing the layering and the “chain of communication”, as opposed to command, enables an easier model to develop, within which all participants feel able to discuss, rather than indulge in successive acts of “telling”. This does not preclude a member of staff from taking an appropriately firm line when necessary.
In all aspects of inclusion, communication comes through, from parents especially, as the key element that makes or breaks relationships. Enabling children and parents to communicate effectively can be key to resolving problems more quickly.
The governing body and school management group has to be committed to the Inclusion ethos of the school/setting and develop related policies that coordinate and manage effort. There will be evidence that they have undertaken training across a range of needs and have considered and planned as far as they are able for future identified needs. There will be named governors and associated senior managers linked to SEND, inclusion and safeguarding. Where some school’s staffing promotes a non-teaching member of staff to take responsibility for one of the areas outlined, this can have the impact of diminishing the status of the area.
The governing body is responsible for the development and oversight of school policies. In the area of inclusion, there will be many associated policies, each of which triangulates with the central notion of being an inclusive school.
It is important that the following school policies are easy for parents (and staff) to read, are free of jargon and translated where appropriate: Teaching and Learning, SEND, Safeguarding, Child Protection, Behaviour, Anti-bullying, Race Equality, Parent Partnership, Homework or Home-School Learning, Attendance and Punctuality, Administration of Medicines, Complaints Procedure.
It is easy to write an incomprehensible policy, which then sits on a shelf, to be dusted down every year or two. It pays dividends to spend time triangulating policies and creating them in plain language, that then becomes easy to communicate. A policy written in ten bullet points may have greater impact that a ten page document. An executive summary helps easier understanding.
An easy to understand communication chart enables every part of the system to visualise what should happen, so that timely decisions can be taken, based on evidence, rather than assumption. Where this forms a framework, the visualisation becomes a form of “safety net” through which no child should fall. Equally, where there might be an issue, to have a clear process diagram enables reflection on the process, to identify and address the area of concern to avoid repetition.
Where line managers are clear in their support and challenge roles, ensuring that the day to day operation is as smooth as possible, the governor role is in oversight, testing the water from time to time within school visits, asking appropriate questions for clarity and to be able to report back to the main body. Governor and school committee agendas and minutes show evidence of discussions of inclusion issues.
Rather than rely on Ofsted to provide the external view of the school there are many mechanisms that can be sought to validate and support school or setting development. This could be a peer review, from a colleague school, at management or governor level, a local authority or Trust officer, an external consultant, or possibly a self or supported audit through a recognised awarding body.
Where is partnership with and support for local and other linked schools or settings, through collaborative networks, discussion of inclusion can become area-wide. When this occurs, it is possible to involve a range of external community groups, with different responsibilities, to address issues that might be community based, but can create in-school issues.
An effective governing body and school management group create and maintain effective approaches to support regular evaluation of each area of responsibility. As a result of these deliberations, based on the available evidence, appropriate changes are implemented.
In this way, it becomes a self-sustaining system, based on principle and coherent developing practices that support easy communication.
Behaviour, becoming a good citizen, in school and the wider community should be a regular item of discussion, through whole school assembly focus, stories shared under PSHE topics, class talks or circle times and face to face with individuals as needed.
It is worth having in mind some relatively simple elements, to support decisions, if you will, an ABCDE of behaviour issues.
A = antecedents; what happened before the behaviour?
B = behaviour; describe the behaviour in detail.
C = consequences of the behaviour.
D = discussions and decisions.
E = Expectations of future behaviours
Expectations need to be very clearly stated and overt in daily school life. Any rules should be easily memorable, to both CYP and adults and be of shared value.
Adults should model calm behaviours, even in challenging circumstances.
Choices and consequences should be a part of discussion; phrased as “your choices, my choices”.
If restitution is agreed as appropriate, the fairness should be apparent to all.
Follow through and follow up should be every staff member’s mantra.
It can appear at times that we expect behaviours from CYP that we do not expect of ourselves. Behaviour management is, in my opinion, a subtle interplay of many factors, some of which are in the control of the adults, but through a high reliance of compliance from the vast majority of the school population. Individual CYP come to school carrying a lot of baggage derived from life outside the setting and can appear to be kicking against the school rules.
If “they” break the rules: -
- Some will need only a look to conform.
- Some may need short term guidance.
- Some may need coaching and mentoring.
- Some will need to be made whole, to rediscover their humanity.
- Some may need time away from the situation, then face the consequences before reintegration.
Adults confronting difficult situations should be prepared to write contemporaneous notes, to capture the details, using the ABCDE notes above. These may need to be reference notes at some stage.
Staff involved in dealing with challenging incidents can expect a supportive debrief conversation with a line manager.
As in a court of law, the person who make the ultimate decision is making a judgement. There are many occasions when the judgement is called into question. Everyone is fallible. Human decisions can be flawed. Sometimes we have to accept that too and be able to move on.