"You need to do something beyond containing": A transferred inclusion approach to social discipline.

Year: 2012

Author: Gilmore, Gwen, Rose, Jo, Bevan-Brown, Jill

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper discusses the concept of inclusion, reporting on a Transferred Inclusion (TI) project, an intervention designed to reduce fixed-term exclusions, from 2008, in a schools partnership in the United Kingdom.

Educational inclusion supports the active participation of all pupils. The practice of fixed-term (FT) exclusion removes the disruptive influence of poor behaviour from the school in the short term, but does little to change pupils' behaviour in the long term, and puts pupils at risk of educational failure. The TI project arose in 2008 from a need to reduce FT exclusions in a cluster of 18 primary schools in the South West of England, while maintaining attainment. An alternative approach was developed whereby pupils who would otherwise be sent home on a fixed term exclusion, were instead sent to another school for a set number of days, to work in isolation under the supervision of a behaviour support worker. This paper investigates the nature and characteristics of TI, asking how schools related to and enacted the principles of TI, and to what extent the practice is inclusive or whether it is an example of social exclusion.

Six head teachers were interviewed in March 2012, using a semi-structured interview schedule. Electronic survey responses were received from a further six headteachers. Questions covered headteachers' experiences of and perspectives on the TI project, their philosophy around behaviour management, and their experiences of partnership work in reducing exclusions.

TI was described as one of the last resorts in response to unacceptable behaviour, with schools preferring to take a more preventative approach. Headteachers discussed supporting pupils' learning and behaviour needs as primary concerns. Understanding pupils' family context and life was seen as key to developing appropriate support. Headteachers also discussed system-wide measures such as behaviour policy, and how schools worked together to develop consistent, cluster-wide approaches to behaviour. Headteachers reported recent reductions in TI referrals, attributing this to clear expectations and boundaries, and preventative support work. Where TI was used, it was seen as a useful deterrent to further poor behaviour because pupils felt socially excluded. This raises the question of how inclusive such a system can be: pupils are continuing learning, but not participating fully in the school experience. Headteachers raised the issue of "beyond" children, for whom TI was not successful. Therefore, we question whether there is an inclusive system that can meet the needs of all young people in mainstream education.