NCB’s vision is an inclusive education system that recognises the fundamental link between the wellbeing of its children and academic progress. There is no ‘trade-off’ between inclusive teaching and learning, valuing children’s mental health, and high expectations of children’s behaviour in school.
Education and Inclusion is one of NCB’s key priority areas. The NCB Family includes a range of networks and programmes with specialist knowledge on the behavioural needs of specific groups of children, including the Council for Disabled Children, the Information Advice and Support Services Network the Schools’ Wellbeing Partnership, the Anti-Bullying Alliance, the Special Educational Consortium and the Childhood Bereavement Network.
The Schools’ Wellbeing Partnership, Anti-Bullying Alliance and the Special Educational Consortium have each submitted their own consultation responses, focussing on their specialist areas. NCB supports these submissions and they complement NCB’s overarching submission based on our vision for an inclusive education system.
NCB’s vision is an inclusive education system that recognises the fundamental link between the wellbeing of its children and academic progress.
There is no ‘trade-off’ between inclusive teaching and learning, valuing children’s mental health, and high expectations of children’s behaviour in school. Where all children are engaged in their education and have high levels of emotional wellbeing, behaviour will be ‘good’.
Mainstream schools are finding it increasingly difficult to be inclusive
Prior to the pandemic, NCB was deeply concerned by the significant rise in the number of children and young people excluded from school. There were particularly steep rises in exclusions from primary schools and amongst our youngest children. This rise in exclusions was part of a wider challenge in mainstream schools, evidenced by the steep increases in the proportion of children and young people with SEND in special schools and children being educated at home.
The underlying causes of behaviour
Children may be labelled as having behavioural difficulties when in fact the issue lies further back in the system’s failure to meet their needs. Emphasis should always be placed on looking at the underlying causes of behaviour, including whether there are unmet special educational needs or social or emotional difficulties.
NCB believes that the way Pupils Referral Units (PRUs) and alternative provision are used by both local authorities and schools to manage the behaviour of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable children is not fit for purpose. There are major flaws in with the way children can be placed in PRUs and alternative provision, the quality of the education they receive there, and the arrangements in place to safeguard them.
The impact of the pandemic and ‘education recovery’
Successive lockdowns and the closure of education settings have placed children and young people under immense strain. Lost learning and newly emerging needs are bound to affect the ability of children to positively engage with their education. Children need to be given time and resources to make the transition back to full-time education while not being labelled as disruptive.
On recovery, a narrow view of childhood has led the government to prioritise huge tutoring programmes at the expense of measures that take a more rounded view of children’s lives. Children’s development cannot be divided into neat boxes called ‘education’, ‘health’ or ‘social care’. Funding educational catch-up programmes without a clear vision for what a child-led recovery looks like will not deliver value for money or deliver the sustainable improvement in outcomes the government seeks.