The Scottish government published a lot of education statistics last week so the report into behaviour in schools didn’t get much coverage. Which is a shame because its important. What the report tells us is that cuts, particularly to classroom assistants and to specialist support staff, are creating problems in school when it comes to maintaining positive behaviour. This substantial report backs up what members told UNISON during our survey of school staff at the beginning of the year.
Head teachers, teachers, support staff and pupils all agree that there is a clear link between having sufficient support staff in a classroom and positive behaviour in that classroom. Staff also felt that the reduction in support staff combined with growing numbers of pupils with ASN had resulted in a shortage of one-to-one support for pupils and a wider negative impact on behaviour.
Again in line with UNISON’s research, it is clear that support staff do not have enough time for discussions with class teachers about pupils or involvement in whole school discussions about behaviour and relationships in schools. Headteachers also indicated that cuts in non-school based support for pupils with additional needs are also impacting on the level of support available to pupils. It is also clear that when resources in schools are stretched in general then that has an impact on other aspects of school life which could promote positive behaviour.
The report also states that
“There is also scope for improvement in relation to: ensuring that support staff feel valued, communication and training”
Earlier in the year our members told us the feel undervalued and the lack of time, lack of resources and heavy workloads mean they are struggling to maintain standards for pupils in Scotland. Things like the Summary Statistics for Schools in Scotland only including teacher numbers doesn’t help. This year they have added the numbers of early years workers with or working towards degrees but no numbers for those with other qualifications. Not counting these staff seems indicative of an attitude that these workers don’t count. The Behaviour in Schools report shows that they do.
We need to invest in and value the whole school team if we want to give pupils the best chance of succeeding.