Children Behaving Better

Image of report coverA report by Tom Burkard and Daisy Meyland-Smith – the full version of which can be download below.


In this report, Tom Burkard and Daisy Meyland-Smith show that:

  • Outcomes at existing Pupil Referral Units (PRU) are very poor, with only 1% of 15 year olds in PRUs receiving 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent in 2006.
  • Given the Coalition’s plans to give head teachers greater powers to exclude disruptive pupils, and the above statistics, deep-seated reform of PRUs is necessary.
  • In addition, new providers of PRUs are needed, especially those that can provide long-term or permanent places for excluded pupils.
  • Funding for PRUs should be integrated into the pupil premium system.
  • Local authorities should reduce barriers to entry for alternative providers.
  • Effective monitoring of outcomes is also essential.

This report has had a significant impact in media across the political spectrum, with mentions in:

Tom Burkard was also interviewed on Radio 5 Live, BBC London, BBC York and BBC Suffolk.

Schools White Paper

Children Behaving Better appears to have encouraged the coalition to create more good pupil referral units for excluded pupils. However, the White Paper also includes a proposal which completely undermines the entire project – the plan to make schools responsible for the pupils they exclude.  This means they will have to pay for full-time accommodation at a Pupil Referral Unit or other alternate full-time provision- which costs at least four times the normal capitation.  Residential accommodation can cost £150,000 per year.

This is the politics of the madhouse.  It is virtually unheard of for heads to exclude pupils until every effort has been made to accommodate them.  Excluded pupils place enormous demands on mainstream schools, which clearly are not geared to the needs of pupils with severe learning difficulties or behavioural problems.  This necessarily distracts from the education of the vast majority of pupils who are prepared to learn.

Michael Gove once promised that no teacher should have to face a pupil returning from a short fixed exclusion for assault.  For all the other good ideas the White Paper contains, this is the get-out clause that virtually ensures will have to face the pupils who have just assaulted them or their pupils.

This measure will be especially unfair to secondary schools served by ineffective primary schools: most behavioural problems ultimately stem from educational failure, and most specifically reading failure.

But the worst feature of this disastrous proposal is that it will remove any remaining presumption that pupils (or their parents) are ultimately responsible for their own behaviour.

Tom Burkard, Daisy Meyland-Smith - Wednesday, 17th November, 2010