To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has undertaken an assessment of the impact of teacher absences due to covid-19 on pupil behaviour.
The government acknowledges that COVID-19 and its consequences, such as teacher absences, have had a significant impact on children and young people’s behaviour.
School leaders and staff have worked incredibly hard to make sure pupils have been able to remain in school, while dealing with higher levels of staff absence than normal. It is the department’s priority to support schools to deliver face to face, high quality education. We reintroduced the COVID-19 workforce fund to support schools and colleges facing the greatest staffing and funding pressures to continue to deliver face-to-face, high-quality education to all pupils. In deploying staff, headteachers should be satisfied that the person has the appropriate skills, expertise and experience to carry out the work. This includes ensuring that safe ratios are met and specific training undertaken, for any interventions or care for pupils with complex needs where specific training or specific ratios are required.
In addition, the government is also pursuing an ambitious programme of work to improve behaviour in schools. Our £10 million behaviour hubs programme, launched in April 2021, is projected to support up to 700 schools over 3 years. It enables schools with exemplary positive behaviour cultures to work closely with schools that want and need to turn around their behaviour alongside a central offer of support and a taskforce of advisers.
In June 2021, the department launched a call for evidence on managing good behaviour and how schools’ behaviour policies have changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This evidence continues to be assessed alongside a public consultation on the Behaviour in Schools guidance, which closed on 31 March 2022. The guidance will provide practical advice to schools about how to encourage good behaviour and respond effectively to incidents of poor behaviour in and out of the classroom, and support staff in tackling behavioural issues that have arisen from COVID-19.
In autumn 2021 we introduced a new and updated suite of fully funded National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) to offer the best possible support to teachers and leaders right across the profession, to help them become more effective teachers and leaders inside and outside the classroom. One of the new specialist NPQs is the NPQ for Leading Behaviour and Culture. Specialist and leadership NPQs provide training and support for teachers and school leaders at all levels, from those who want to develop expertise in high-quality teaching practice, such as behaviour management, to those leading multiple schools across trusts
We have also made improvements to teacher training as part of the Early Career Framework. The Early Career Framework will directly support those at the start of their teaching careers by ensuring new teachers are entitled to a structured two-year package of funded high quality professional development based on the best available evidence.