What you can’t say about school behaviour

I often point people towards Paul Graham’s short 2008 essay, How to Disagree. It clearly and succinctly provides guidance for engaging in the kind of debates that develop online. However, one of Graham’s earlier essays, What You Can’t Say, perhaps provides an even deeper insight into the way debates are shaped by the surrounding culture. He makes the point that in every time and culture there are taboos – things you cannot say – that it would be perfectly acceptable to say in a different time and culture.

In our shattered world, people inhabit bubbles of thought online that are close to impervious to the outside. You can extend Graham’s argument to a difference between these bubbles. A taboo in one is a fair comment in another. This becomes clear when bubbles collide.

I think that’s what happened to my recent post on behaviour in Australian schools. Although published on Sunday, it began to attract comments yesterday which all seemed to be coming from a similar perspective. I am speculating here, but I suspect my blog was posted on a Facebook group for those with an interest in school inclusion. To members of this group, what I wrote was taboo.

There is a difference, of course, between a taboo and a comment that a lot of people just happen to disagree with. You may think I am motivated to characterise disagreements as taboos because that makes them sound less reasonable, enabling me to dismiss them without having to reflect on the flaws in my own argument. However, I think there is one distinguishing feature of the comments (that are present at the time of writing) which a fair-minded observer would notice – with one exception*, they do not explain what it is that I have written that they disagree with.

Instead, doubt is cast upon my ability to teach and I stand accused of spreading hate and stigma. Why?

I can only assume that this is due to my views on how the debate about school behaviour has been framed by some through the lens of disability. Some campaigners wish to claim, for instance, that schools disproportionately suspend and exclude students with disabilities. However, if we decide to construct a disorder such as Oppositional Defiance Disorder as a disability, a disorder with the diagnostic characteristics of being angry, defiant and vindictive, then it seems slightly less surprising that students with this diagnosis will be over-represented in these statistics. By pointing this out, I am perhaps diminishing the value of an otherwise powerful argument.

The odd thing is that I do not believe that campaigners against school exclusion and for the rights of children with disabilities would differ a great deal with me on what the evidence shows. We can perhaps agree that being excluded from school is associated with many negative life outcomes, although I might question the assumption that the former somehow causes the latter rather than there being some underlying cause of both. And I think we would agree on a substantial proportion of the way challenging behaviours should be managed in class. This is probably best understood using the Response to Intervention model – a research-developed model of intervention that has been used in fields as diverse as early reading instruction and behaviour management:

Tier 1 represents what all students in a school will receive. In early reading, this should be a systematic phonics programme. In behaviour management, this should consist of students being explicitly taught routines and expected behaviours. There is also room for reasonable accommodations within Tier 1 that deal with a child’s specific needs within a whole class context. An obvious example that we often might not even think about is for some children to wear glasses. Others can include seating positions, being given written copies of verbal instructions or perhaps the ability for a child to voluntarily choose a time-out if they judge they need one.

Some of these approaches are likely to benefit all students and teachers may not be aware of them. That’s why I was keen to publish a piece with Professor Pam Snow for American Educator about the best methods for helping students with Developmental Language Disorder. Friday of this week has been designated internationally as a day to raise awareness of Developmental Language Disorder and I was planning to write a post to coincide with that.

Research on managing student behaviour is not as solid as that on early reading, partly due to the ethical difficulties in conducting such research, but there is enough to provide some general guidelines for Tier 1, as I discussed in the book I wrote for new teachers. The most fruitful area seems to be behaviourist research. This emphasises preventing issues from arising by using seating plans, class routines and other thoughtful forms of organisation, and the positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviours. Behaviourism also maintains a place for negative sanctions, although this is never the emphasis – everything else should be tried first.

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) is a framework that employs many of the techniques of behaviourism and one that I have seen advocated by disability campaigners. When reading about PBS, the role of sanctions is usually downplayed to the point of nonexistence, but they are still there. For instance, in one 2005 study of whole-school PBS, students were given an ‘office referral’ for disciplinary infractions such as fighting with peers. Importantly, although these referrals initially increased as PBS was introduced, over time they dropped to a lower level than the starting point. This should be a goal of any behaviour intervention – a reduced need to escalate problems to the next level. This is why I believe that a more systematic approach to the problem of challenging behaviour in Australian schools would eventually lead to lower levels of suspension and exclusion. That does not require, and in my view would be hindered by, a top-down mandate to reduce exclusions by X%.

I think the biggest difference between my perspective and that of campaigners is that I am a practising teacher who sees these issues as practical problems rather than moral issues framed in absolute terms. I know what it is like to teach ‘citizenship’ to a class of Year 9 students on a wet Thursday afternoon in winter. I want pragmatic solutions of the form, ‘You could try… or you could do…’. It does not help me to be told that ‘all behaviour is communication’ or that ‘children have a right to be included’. I need to know what you practically want me to do and it has to be more tangible than, ‘be more understanding’.

And we need to be aware of the limits of schools. I am sure some students are not receiving the reasonable adjustments they should be receiving that would enable them to make better progress. However, it is also the case that a child who is exposed to serious abuse at home is unlikely to be magically fixed by some adjustment that a teacher makes to her class of 30 students. Similarly, a child whose behaviour is caused by frustration resulting from poor reading instruction will not be fixed by a time-out card in science class – the underlying issue must be addressed. Teachers certainly can affect behaviour, but there are limits. This is where the other tiers of Response to Intervention need to take over.

It seems odd to me that people who can agree on so much always end up talking past each other in this debate. I believe this is due to the different frames through which we see the issue. I think campaigners believe that top-down, legal mandates that force schools to reduce exclusions and that force teachers to not be ‘punitive’ and to accommodate students are the goal. After all, a change in a law or regulation is a clear, easily communicated goal for any campaign to have.

Teachers, on the other hand, are still worrying about all those practicalities.

The quintessential example of the two sides talking past each other can be seen in the kind of exchange that has played out many times on Twitter:

Teacher: What would you do if a child had sexually assaulted a classmate? Would you send them back into class with the child they had assaulted?

Campaigner: Why choose this example? The vast majority of school exclusions are for far less. Are you trying to slur kids with disabilities?

Let me be clear. Teachers do confront situations like this and they do need to know how to deal with them.

None of this miscommunication will be solved by making the topic of school behaviour a taboo. If campaigners wish to make the case that students with disabilities are over-represented in exclusions statistics or that schools are not adequately catering to the needs of students with disabilities then they should do so. This perspective is important to an informed debate. However, they must then expect teachers to join in the discussion. They must expect analysis and critique.

I understand that this is a deeply personal issue for many of the people involved – people who have often been drawn into campaigning by the mistreatment of loved ones. However, nobody is served by silencing discussion. By hectoring teachers and suggesting they are unfit to teach, campaigners alienate those who they need to convince. Maybe some campaigners really do think many teachers are unfit to be in the profession, but as Dylan Wiliam has often suggested, it is far easier to improve the teachers we have than to find new and better ones. Eventually, we need to accept that dialogue between the two perspectives, even if it is sometimes robust, is in everyone’s interests, especially those of children with disabilities.

*In the post I refer to the fact that the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Oppositional Defiant Disorder lists behaviours, ‘that would previously have been seen as simply bad’. One commenter wrote, ‘I don’t agree that bad behaviors are now part of the diagnostic tool’. 


19 thoughts on “What you can’t say about school behaviour

  1. Greg – I would agree with you that there is often more common ground than people acknowledge. That said, a couple of quick point me to make in response

    You talk about ODD but you do not mention this is almost always a supplement to an ADHD diagnosis. It is almost never is given on its own. Your argument then falls short because of this critical omission. Kids with ODD almost always have hyperactive presentations of ADHD and are most commonly boys. These kids are struggling hard with self regulation skills due to their (usually severe) ADHD.

    About 90% of all kids suspended from school are boys and 42.6% have a disability. The numbers are really clear. It’s clear to most casual observers that these ADHD/ODD boys would be wildly over-represented in this cohort and yet, they’re not made a specific target for support. They are largely ignored by departments except for the purposes of exclusion.

    Second point – PBL/PBS is rarely implemented properly in Australia. This is well known. Most implementations are not PBL at all but rather traditional punishment and reward systems organized into ‘tiers’. The argument to move away from punishment and reward/contingent style systems is that they ignore skills deficits, assume students have skills and capabilities (when often they don’t) and position behavior in a motivational context. ‘Make them behave’ / ‘make them *want* to behave’ – how? Rewards and punishments.

    What if they want to behave but lack the required skills?

    We actually know a lot about childhood behavior from research. Where the literature thins out a bit is how schools are working with it and there seems to be very little innovation in the system in Australia. There seems to be an unwillingness to see it outside a ‘discipline problem’ lens. We just see ‘tough talk’ about ‘crisis’ and then calls which amount to noting more than blunt and intellectually impoverished zero tolerance models which ignore everything we know about children. Kick the misbehaving kids out out and keep the well behaved ones. Should we kick out all the kids with learning difficulties as well? It’s time for us to see behaviour within a learning difficulty framework. It makes sense that way.

    Ultimately you can build systematic looking pyramids all you like but if it can just be reduced to a simple punishment and reward system with no commitment to the underlying learning difficulties with self-regulation, adaptability, tolerance for frustration etc – then it’s more or less a pointless exercise.

    You may be aware of the documentary ‘The Kids We Lose’ – which is about punishment and over correction of kids in US schools. It’s a compelling piece of work. If you haven’t seen it, I’d really recommend it.


    • In your eagerness to attack a ‘punishment and reward system’ you seem to have missed that the major lever in any behaviourist system is antecedent control and you also seem to have missed the part where I wrote “In behaviour management, this should consist of students being explicitly taught routines and expected behaviours.” That extends to all levels of intervention and I could go into more detail but that was not the point of this post. Yes, you do need to teach students how to behave. Yes, you do need to develop these skills. No, you won’t get there by punishment and reward alone and I never claimed this.

      Behaviourist approaches do use negative sanctions, but these come in third behind antecedent control and positive reinforcement. Interestingly, some research-based approaches that have been developed for treating ODD also make use of ‘mild punishments’ and look very similar to behavourist classroom approaches.


      The issue of negative sanctions is always a troubling one because some people are ideologically opposed to any form of punishment and tend to start moralising about this, leading to the frustration I expressed above that we have all this moralising and very few practical suggestions.

      I do not think, as you suggested in your comment on my previous post, that students learn much from punishment. If you decide to construct a school exclusion as a punishment then it is worth pointing out that exclusions are rarely given with the aim of teaching the excluded student a lesson. They are invariably given to protect other students and their ability to learn.

      I am not at all surprised by the exclusion figures you cited. If ODD is constructed as a disability and ODD involves being oppositional and defiant then it seems entirely predictable that students with ODD are more likely to be excluded. What we need are ways of addressing this issue other than simply trying to coerce schools into reducing exclusions.

      In your comment on my previous post you suggested it was unprofessional for me to have an opinion on ODD diagnosis; that it was second guessing the experts. I fully accept expert diagnosis I am just pointing out some fairly obvious logical consequences of this. I am afraid that teachers will no longer be silenced. We are the professionals who have the most practical experience in this space and our perspective matters.

      • Louise Kuchel says:

        “Teachers will no longer be silenced”. Who is asking for teachers to be silenced? Those disability figures quoted by Julian are real and they indicate discrimination occurring in NSW schools. If we go on like this, punishing disability, we are just feeding the prisons of the future. This is all well known and accepted by the NSW DET and Minister for Education and that is why disability advocates have been invited to collaborate with the DET on their review of discipline policy to ensure that children with disability will no longer be punished for behaviour that they cannot control and teachers will be supported, educated and directed to provide adjustments that allow those children to access the curriculum on the same basis as their peers. Teachers, parents and government are going to work together to improve this situation, whether you like it or not Greg.

        I know you claim to be expert at adjusting for children in the classroom. That’s fabulous, but did you know that over 95% of parents of ADHD kids claimed that teachers did not know how to adjust for their children at school? (PAAA survey from 2018) Over 50% of parents found it extremely difficult to get adjustments in place for their child and we all know that the NCCD, even after 9 years, is not yet functioning as it should.

        Greg, I am aware that none of this is going to change your view, but at least accept what is going on around you. When presented with evidence of what’s happening, even if you don’t agree in the direction we are going, at least accept that it’s the way that the majority want to go, it’s the law and it’s supported by government and the majority of teachers and parents? It will benefit ALL children, not just those with the skills to behave a certain way.

        I’m hoping this comment is not too unpleasant for you this time.


      • It sounds like you’ve got it all sorted out and you don’t need to spend time arguing with the likes of me. Good luck.

        If I may be so bold as to offer a little advice: Everywhere campaigners have used laws and regulations to try to bear down on exclusions from above through coercing schools, there has later been a backlash with horror stories reported in the tabloids followed by a political reversal. Any reform needs to address causes.

  2. Thanks for your reply Greg. It’s a very worthwhile discussion.

    The point I made about ODD was to draw attention to the fact that it’s associated with ADHD mostly and therefore is driven by a disorder of executive function / developmental delay and so has to be seen in its rightful context. It’s a learning difficulty with a set of causes that can mostly be clearly identified. It’s not just a diagnostic construct that sits around behaviours in isolation from other factors – most of which have a neurodevelopmental basis. It’s largely a co-morbid diagnosis. That’s the missing part of the discussion in my view.

    The construction of discipline policies is often around the assumption that all kids come into that environment on some kind of equal developmental and neurological footing. You present in your previous post a hypothetical conundrum around how disability law intersects with the use of disciplinary sanctions. My counter proposal is that this misses the underlying point. Punishment makes behaviour worse rather than better in cases where children have underlying conditions which make compliance difficult. This does not mean that no contingencies are needed, but rather that harsh punishments with no constructive outcome for the student do not help and should not be used unless circumstances are extreme. Exclusion is used with an extremely light trigger across the entire sector, which is why the numbers are so ridiculously high and why so many kids with disabilities are getting caught up in it.

    Exclusion is a very harsh punishment that affects the mental health of a child who is already struggling and has clear needs. Other options are needed. Contingency might just as well involve referral for specific coaching. If there were more than a tiny handful of school counselors, they might play some kind of active role in a skills coaching program. I would see this as being similar to other forms of learning support, such as for reading and numeracy. But that would require a funding commitment.

    Shifting the lens is important not only to understanding why the behaviour is manifesting itself but also in terms of informing the set of institutional responses to it. The shared aim is to help that child meet ‘expectations‘ and reduce maladaptive behaviours. There are a number of well tested programs for this with a strong evidence base. Indeed we have a number of very good research driven programs run from the major child behaviour research centers. Why not use this expertise in the school system?

    It’s good we agree on the need to teach skills. Discipline policies are frequently written from the point of view of ‘expectations’ but rarely make clear the positive interventions that assist students in gaining the necessary skills. I would argue that a rules based system of expectations does little to address the ecological aspects of the matter at hand. If someone tells you that you need to run the 100m in less than 12 seconds but has no clear coaching plan in place then it’s not a realistic expectation. If they then living you for taking longer then that is also not productive and is likely to demotivate you.

    If you look at the PBL framework proposed for schools it is largely silent on assistive aspects. Rather it focuses on a simple triage model. I want to know what happens after the triage process, but the framework is silent on those aspects. Surely they are the engine room of any policy framework? Why not have a systematic program of skills development that is sitting around the model that makes explicit the positive interventions in respect of explicit teaching or skills coaching? I understand this aspect is simply left up to the school to work out. The reality is many schools are not across the research in this area so expecting them to come up with the nuts and bolts with no systematic assistance from departments is problematic in my view.

    At present there is a large amount of NCCD money sitting in state education departments that is not being allocated to schools because departments have not adapted their funding allocation models to the NCCD. They are literally sitting on money that is supposed to be going to schools to support the kids we’re talking about in this thread.

    So there is a level of systemic dysfunction and it’s not the fault of the kids and the schools. There’s a failure of leadership in my view. This money could be allocated towards the kind of systematic skills support I am referring to above: it just needs a bureaucratic strategy and a sign-off.

    Beyond this there is the matter of staff training. It is well known that teachers lack training in these areas and this training is really important so that the right approaches are taken. Mark Scott recently said in NSW parliament that only 10% of his teaching workforce has training in supporting kids with common disabilities. At the same time, there’s confusion in the department about how to account for disability in their revised discipline policy. This needs sorting out urgently.

    So the ‘crisis’ as I see it (which is a pretty emotive term) is around a lack of clear strategy to implement what is well known about effective supports for child behavior and developmental conditions in schools. This means sorting out the NCCD funding and doing something impactful with it that is evidence based and includes a strong training component. To my mind, if there is any ‘crisis’ it is largely a bureaucratic one.

    Lastly – I think you’re possibly being over sensitive if you think things can’t be discussed. You blog, you make views public across your social media accounts and people engage with you. There’s a difference better people disagreeing with you and trying to silence any views you might have.

    In your reply you said I was ‘attacking’ you. As someone who is studying for a PhD I’m surprised you are seeing reasoned debate as some kind of attack.

    I posted this comment a while back and it awaits your moderator approval so in the spirit of no one silencing anyone perhaps you could approve it?

    • I cannot see any comments from you that are awaiting moderation.

      I said you were eager to attack a ‘punishments and rewards system’, not me. Attacking ideas is different to attacking people and in this case I don’t even advocate such a system.

      My contention is that the reason we have high exclusion statistics is because we let things escalate to the point where this is the only option. Schools like Michaela in London are often criticised for teaching kids how to SLANT (I forget what the acronym stands for), how to navigate the corridors etc. However, by having strategies to sweat the small stuff and actually teach pro-social behaviours, I believe they can be part of the solution to reducing exclusions. That’s what we all want. We don’t have the data to test my theory but the PBL study I linked to saw such an effect on office referrals after an initial spike.

      What is not effective is to use a top-down mandate to tell schools they have to reduce exclusions. This just means that schools will become less safe because we have done nothing to address the escalation of problem behaviours. This is not the panacea many campaigners think it is. Instead, it will just lead to an inevitable backlash. How do we know? Because this is what has happened every time it has been tried before.

      If people don’t like SLANT or silent corridors or whatever, they should propose their own practical steps for what teachers and schools can do rather than simply lecture them on exclusions, disability and the law. You may think the crisis has been constructed but it is very real for the teachers and students who have to deal with violent behaviour and abuse.

      In a previous comment, you suggested it was unprofessional of me to discuss diagnostic criteria for ODD. I interpret that as an attempt to pressure me into silence on that topic. Obviously, it didn’t work.

  3. Quick comment on the aspects of this that we haven’t discussed in our other exchanges.

    The Michaela school throws up more questions for me than it does answers. As a charter style school they are selective. This means if anything looks too hard they can pass on it. If you want an ‘orderly’ school then not admitting students is a fairly blunt way to do it. Secondly they do not publish exclusion data. This is also another blunt way to achieve order. Exclude students. What it doesn’t do is deal with the challenges of recognizing differences and disabilities. Students do well if they have the skills and the motivation to comply. Selective schools always get great results – not because they are superior but rather because they choose their cohorts and whittle them down. I think most people agree with that view. So unless I can see the full picture I can’t get on board a ‘success story’. I know enough about kids with disabilities to know that Michaela school methods may be pretty problematic. Have you seen any detail on how they support disabilities and learning difficulties? All public reporting is silent on this.

    The other question I have about Michaela is a compliance driven model of education. This is a controversial topic obviously. Many schools in Asian cultures are cited as being successful but if you look at the methods they are often very centered on rote learning, test preparation and tutoring. There is an element of gamification involved in this for me. It’s great for PISA rankings and standardized testing but is it a superior method of education?

    It’s not been my experience that students who test well in rote style situations will necessarily be strong in the kind of transferable skills and higher order thinking skills that our evolving workplaces demand. It can sometimes be hard to get them to critique positions or bring forward ideas of their own. This has often been discouraged in favor of compliance with and memorization of ideas. In my experience it often elicits a lack of flexibility and adaptability and a lack of confidence in situations of high uncertainty. The shift from content knowledge to higher order thinking skills is an important one and is at the centre of most contemporary education debates.

    So the jury is out for me on Michaela. More information required.

    • Michaela school is not selective. If you claim that their results are down to excluding students then you should provide evidence for this. Otherwise, this is just a slur.

      The rest of your response mixes mild racist stereotyping with the usual progressivist educational cliches for which there is so little evidence. Your experience does not really cut it against the wealth of evidence that we have from cognitive science that ‘higher order skills’ are almost entirely dependent upon accumulating relevant domain knowledge – the stuff so inaccurately caricatured by ideologues as rote memorisation.

      If you are interested in exploring this further then you can start here:

      Click to access Crit_Thinking.pdf

  4. Greg – you seem to get really emotional in your replies and are now attacking me with name calling. For clarity – the claimed success on issues such as behavior and outcomes for a school can only be read in the context of their inclusion and exclusion data. I’ve not seen any data published on what their suspension rates are, not any details of how they support special needs. This is why I want to see it before I can gain some kind of informed perspective.

    The second set of comments are not ‘racist’. That’s a comical response from you, really. They are observations around ‘cultural difference’ and they exist. You can read about these in scholarly literature if you like. Is any observation around cultural difference branded by you as ‘racist’? It’s utter nonsense, sorry. Anyone with even the most cursory experience of teaching students across cultures will report these differences to you. These perspectives are important if we want to compare the outcomes of different approaches. Is this something that ‘can’t be talked about’ like ‘school behaviour’? Who is having the difficulty here?

    I’m not sure if you have any experience at all in international cross cultural education systems but I do. I’m here to tell you that there are marked differences in approach and that these have particular strengths and weaknesses because they represent fundamentally different pedagogical approaches. Did you get the strength and weakness part? Good.

    Cultures manifest difference. Wild idea, I know. Your reaction to cultural observations indicates to me you must have very little experience internationally. If you did you’d be very aware of the kinds of differences that I am talking about.

    I have to say you seem to get very upset by any ideas that are different to your own. As an educator I find that problematic, but there you go. My idea of an educator is someone who is open to ideas that may challenge their own. I also recognize the tendency in debates for people to personalize things if their ideas are challenged too strongly. You don’t need to insult people. Just engage with the ideas respectfully. People who disagree with you are not trying to ‘attack’ you. They just hold different views. It’s a basic tenet of all academic discourse. People can accord basic respect to each other by not resorting to base level personal attacks and name calling.

    If you want to run your blog as an authoritarian exercise where you’ll name call people off it who hold different views then I wonder why you are doing that? Why is it so important to you that your ideas are unchallenged by anyone in your comments? And why is it so important to you to disparage the work of researchers who hold different views to you? You can just turn off the comments if you want to use your blog as a mono-directional loudhailer.

    • I am not emotional at all. I wonder why you continually feel the need to try to represent me in this way rather than respond to my arguments.

      Yes, there are differences between cultures. However, you wrote, “Asian cultures are cited as being successful but if you look at the methods they are often very centered on rote learning, test preparation and tutoring.” I don’t think anyone would suggest that being ‘very centered on rote learning’ is a positive and so I do see this as mild racist stereotyping.

      Again, you have questioned my authority to have an opinion on these matters. I have taught many students from an East Asian background. They know their stuff really well and they are also very strong on high order thinking skills, problem solving and so on. Saying that East Asian countries are only any good at rote learning and test prep is a way of dismissing their achievements.

      You are quick to accuse Michaela of selection and excluding students in order to get good results. You have no evidence of this and suggest that it is up to others to provide evidence that this is not the case. This is not how rational debate works. However, in this case I can provide such evidence. Ofsted is a body that inspects schools in the UK. It has access to school exclusion figures and often comments on them it its reports. It inspected Michaela in 2017 and found it to be outstanding:


      It did not say anything about exclusion rates, so we can only assume that they are well within normal figures. It did say:

      “Leaders promote equality of opportunity exceedingly well. Additional funding is used carefully. Leaders and teachers ensure that outcomes for eligible pupils, including disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities, are outstanding.”

  5. Louise Kuchel says:

    Greg the reason why it’s important to argue with people like you is sitting in my living room right now. My son. Your views influence many other teachers and that effects him, and if you are going to have a say, then I believe I should have that right as well.

    Thanks for the advice with the discipline reform. I do feel for you. You seem afraid of reform and upholding of the law. Why are you so afraid? Is it the “backlash” that you speak of? What do you think is going to happen if we stop disciplining disability? All the kids with neurological conditions are going to attack their teachers? Wow Greg. Is that really what you think will happen?

    Oh well, probably best to try and work with it I guess. Maybe you could blog about how teachers can adjust for kids with disability so as to avoid taking punitive measures that just make it worse for everyone? Maybe you could blog about inclusive education and how skilled teachers can help children with ADHD/ODD/Anxiety to access the curriculum on the same basis as their peers?

    Now there’s an idea…

  6. Also Greg, I have to fact check you on the Michaela School. They operate selective entry for form six. Perhaps you might revise your above position? My comments and questions stand.

    Click to access Sixth-Form-Admissions-Policy.pdf

    Admission to the Michaela Sixth Form involves:
    1) Submitting an online application form
    2) Having an interview and completing a short subject-specific entrance exam 3) Meeting the grade requirements
    Interviews and examinations will take place on a rolling basis between November and March. Offers will be made in March/April.
    4. Allocation of places
    The Michaela Sixth Form is selective. Applicants must secure on average grade 7s in 7 GCSEs, including English and Maths. We will discount additional GCSEs with lower grades. Students wanting to study Further Maths must have achieved a grade 8 or above in GCSE Maths. For all other subjects, students must secure a grade 7 in the subjects they wish to study.

    • Michaela’s outstanding GCSE results do not come from their sixth form, they come from Years 7-11 which have a fully comprehensive intake i.e. not selective. We have no results from the sixth form yet because it has only just been established.

      • Sheriff says:

        The rabbit hole gets deeper.

        It would be interesting to know how many people who disagree are actually mainstream teaching practitioners.

  7. Pingback: Ignoring teachers is not a solution – Filling the pail

  8. Your point about the construction of disorders like ODD is something I see as a barrier to inclusion.

    Having a medically diagnosed label for behaviour that could just be described as “angry” of “defiant” makes it seem far more intimidating for teachers, schools and parents to manage. I think we need to move to a more individualised system with behaviour where we stop trying to fit them into boxes such as ODD, ADHD and ADD with others and take each child on their own behaviours, define the problem behaviour specifically, set a SMART target and move on from there.

    Some teachers would confess that they don’t know how to deal with a child who has ODD, but most teachers would feel more confident if they were told they were just dealing with a child who was “defiant to direct instruction”.

    I wrote something small about defining problems and why teachers would benefit from thinking about this simple step more. As it’s only my second post, I’d love some feedback:


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