[Discuss-sudbury-model] overcoming severe environmental factors

From: David Rovner <rovners_at_netvision.net.il>
Date: Thu Feb 27 11:20:01 2003

> I am not aware of any claims that the Sudbury model is capable of
overcoming the kinds of severe environmental factors that you
describe. <

> it has been possible for some kids who arrive with the kinds of problems
you describe to change and to find and make something of themselves in a
Sudbury school. <

". . . Year in, year out, they come: the floatsam and jetsam of society,
kids whom just about everyone has given up . . . All of them are treated the
same at Sudbury Valley. They get their freedom back, and the awsome
responsibility of controlling their own destinies. There is no one to hold
them down.
Soon, the message sinks in. The freedom, the open atmosphere, the universal
friendliness, the age mixing, all combine to ease them back to reality . .

["Good Kids and "Trouble Makers," Free at Last - The Sudbury Valley School]

~ David

More food for thought, you might want to read this:
To see this story with its related links on the EducationGuardian.co.uk
site, go to http://education.guardian.co.uk
Discipline in schools speech
Full text of Charles Clarke's Discipline in Schools speech see below.

-----Original Message-----
From: gfp.jutta_at_blueyonder.co.uk <gfp.jutta_at_blueyonder.co.uk>
To: savesummerhil_at_yahoogroups.com <savesummerhil_at_yahoogroups.com>
Date: 27 February 2003 13:31
Subject: For your attention

>Gerald Phillips spotted this on the EducationGuardian.co.uk site and
thought you should see it.
>Note from Gerald Phillips:
>Seems like another example of a Government with no insight or ideas.
>To see this story with its related links on the EducationGuardian.co.uk
site, go to http://education.guardian.co.uk
>Discipline in schools speech
>Full text of Charles Clarke's Discipline in Schools speech
>Thursday December 12 2002
>The Guardian
>Why discipline matters Every day around 50,000 pupils miss school without
permission. Bad behaviour disrupts education at one in twelve secondary
schools, according to Ofsted. And four out of five secondary pupils say some
of their classmates regularly try to disrupt lessons.
>The mission of this government is to raise educational standards. But you
can't raise standards if pupils miss school and behave badly when they are
there. Attendance and good behaviour are preconditions for effective
learning. Tackling poor behaviour is as much part of improving pupil
performance as good teaching. There are two other reasons why we must
tackle the behaviour problem.
>First, education is about values as well as knowledge and skills. Values
such as respect, courtesy and consideration are the foundations of a
civilized society. That includes respect for others and respect for
>Heads, teachers and other school staff deserve respect.
>There can never be any justification for subjecting them to assault -
verbal or physical.
>Residents living near schools and older people in particular also deserve
respect - they should not have to put up with being jostled or abused while
waiting for a bus, walking near their home or shopping at the local store.
>And in case anyone thinks that sounds a bit old fashioned or authoritarian
then just reflect on this fact. Forty five per cent of teachers leaving the
profession cited behaviour as one of the main reasons for doing so.
>They are highlighting a lack of respect in too many of our schools. It is
time to restore respect for authority to its rightful place.
>That in turn must mean a sustained drive to strengthen school discipline.
Second, we know that if we do not address behaviour problems early on then
both the children themselves and society at large suffer.
>Half our children are now getting five or more good GCSEs. But only 10% of
persistent truants and 17% of pupils who have been excluded achieve that
standard. And a survey from the Youth Justice Board published earlier this
year reported that two thirds of truants and excludees said they had
committed a criminal offence.
>Children need clear boundaries: boundaries that adults - parents as well as
teachers - must set. We cannot abdicate our responsibility when children
move outside those boundaries. To do that is to betray children, because the
consequences of bad behaviour are so damaging.
>Of course we must keep a sense of proportion. I know from visiting schools
that most pupils attend regularly and behave well. And the vast majority of
parents value and support their children's school and its staff. But that
is all the more reason why we owe it to pupils, parents and teachers alike
to deal with those who do truant or who are ill-disciplined.
>Strong leadership by head teachers and schools can make a huge difference.
Armley Primary school in Leeds, for example, has raised attendance from 71%
to 91% in a year.
>This extraordinary achievement by headteacher, Kath Andrews, her staff and
the school's education welfare officer shows just how much can be done by
combining a welcoming environment, clear rules and a determination to make
parents face up to their responsibilities.
>Hillcrest school in Dudley came out of special measures six months after Mo
Brennan's appointment as headteacher. The school's unauthorised absence
rate has dropped by nearly two thirds in two years and as important the
proportion of pupils getting five good GCSEs has more than doubled. What
some schools have achieved is a model for others to follow. But we cannot
leave it all to schools. Heads need action and support from parents,
governors and local authorities. We must challenge cultural acceptance of
bad behaviour and truancy. And the government too has a duty to take the
lead with a coherent and sustained programme of measures. Our measures must
deal with attendance as well as with behaviour in schools. They must promote
early intervention, which means helping primary schools as well as secondary
schools. And they must strike the right balance between supporting the
"can'ts" - families in real difficulty - and putting pressure on the
>What's happening now? Thanks to the determined work of my predecessor,
Estelle Morris, a national drive against truancy and support for schools
with the biggest behaviour problems is already well under way. This school
year we are making ֲ£50 million available to the 34 local education
authorities with the highest levels of street crime and truancy. The money
is funding packages of intensive support for targeted schools. Each package
supports up to four secondary schools and linked primary schools. Together
these Behaviour Improvement Projects are helping 130 secondary and 555
primary schools with over 300,000 pupils.
>The make-up of each package varies with local needs. But nearly all include
multi-agency Behaviour and Education Support Teams - BEST teams - to work
with pupils with the most serious behaviour and attendance problems. 81 BEST
teams should be up and running by January. And by then there should be a key
worker for every pupil who is at risk of exclusion, persistent truancy or
crime and full-time education from day one for every excluded pupil - fixed
term as well as permanent.
>These are ambitious targets, but we are well on the way to achieving them.
But we have an even more ambitious target - a national reduction in truancy
of 10% by October 2004 - which I am determined to achieve.
>Truancy is a long-standing and deep-rooted problem. It is by no means
confined to children from disadvantaged and disorganised families. I regard
any kind of absence that has not been authorised by the school as truancy,
whether that is taking a child Christmas shopping, going on a trip to
Disneyland in Florida in the middle of the school term or just letting a
child roam around the local neighbourhood. So we have to challenge cultural
acceptance of any form of truancy as we enforce school attendance. That's
what truancy sweeps are about. This week truancy sweeps are taking place in
all but the three smallest LEAs. And this national campaign is being backed
by publicity aimed at parents and the wider community.
>The message is simple: regular attendance really matters. Parents have a
responsibility for ensuring their child goes to school regularly. Neglecting
this responsibility is a criminal offence. Yes, a criminal offence.
>What happens next? So we have made a strong start. But we need to go much
further. Today I am setting out a five point programme and I am backing this
programme with both money and reform. We will be investing ֲ£134m next
year, ֲ£149m in 2004/05 and ֲ£186m in 2005/6 in a national behaviour and
attendance strategy. And we will reform rules to reinforce the authority of
head teachers and the responsibilities of parents.
>The five points of the plan are:
>&#183; a national behaviour and attendance strategy for schools &#183;
improved working with the police &#183; modernising the role of the
Education Welfare Service &#183; new measures and rules on exclusions
&#183; making parents face up to their responsibilities.
>Let me deal with each part of this programme in turn.
>The national behaviour and attendance strategy The national behaviour and
attendance strategy has two parts - universal and targeted. The universal
strand is designed for all secondary schools but we will particularly focus
on 11-14 year old pupils. That is the age at which behaviour and attendance
problems emerge and the stage where we are putting more effort into
supporting the transition from primary to secondary school.
>As part of the strategy all secondary schools will have access to training
materials and behaviour experts so that the senior management team in a
school is confident and equipped in dealing with poor behaviour and can pass
on its knowledge to other staff. Schools will be challenged to think about:
&#183; what time they start and finish the school day and the timing and
length of the lunch break &#183; whether they have clear rules on bullying
and dealing with unacceptable behaviour in the playground &#183; how clubs
and other activities outside the school day and at weekends can support what
happens during formal school sessions &#183; how to make the best use of
computerised registration to monitor lateness and attendance &#183; how to
work with education welfare officers to chase up families who have not sent
their child into school &#183; whether staff are sufficiently well trained
in responding to classroom disruptions and in dealing with disruptive
pupils; and &#183; how to develop the use of learning mentors and learning
support units to help children with particular problems. We are recruiting
additional people with the relevant expertise and skills to support schools
and education authorities in this work.
>The problems in some schools are very serious and deep seated.
>They will require intensive support.
>That is where the targeted part of our national behaviour and attendance
strategy kicks in. Over the next three years we will extend the Behaviour
Improvement Projects from the 34 initial high crime localities to all the
Excellence in Cities education authorities that don't already have one and
to all Excellence Clusters. This will mean intensive support for about 400
secondary and 1,500 primary schools educating around 800,000 children.
>In addition we are developing extended schools that operate after school,
at weekends and in school holidays. They will provide a wide range of
activities and services including after-school and homework clubs,
childcare, adult and family learning, health and social care and leisure
activities. We know this can have a positive approach to learning and
>Some pupils behave badly because of serious personal or family problems.
There is often little that teachers on their own can do about that. A key
part of the strategy will involve supporting teachers by giving them ready
access to professionals such as education psychologists and social and
mental health workers who can help with behaviour problems.
>The Behaviour and Education Support Teams will facilitate this
multi-disciplinary working and in three years time there should be more than
200 of these teams supporting schools.
>The Connexions Service also has a key role to play in working with pupils
at risk. This year they took the lead in co-ordinating summer activities
for disaffected young people. The summer plus programme supported over
10,000 young people at risk of crime.
>Many of them have now returned to education with renewed motivation. This
work will continue. Connexions Personal Advisers are also working with
schools on problems that cause misbehaviour and truancy.
>For example, they can help to negotiate flexible learning packages for
older pupils who are not motivated by traditional provision.
>The role of the police As a former minister for the police I know what a
valuable role police play in supporting schools. In primary schools they
help young children to learn about road safety and to deal with the adult
world. In secondary schools they provide a valuable bridge between schools
and the local community and help with drug education and tackling bullying.
The police also support truancy sweeps and in most localities build up
excellent relations with head teachers. But over the past 12 months it has
become clear that there is a further role that the police can play. In
areas where there is a high level of crime or there are severe problems with
anti social behaviour, local residents - including children and young
people - want the reassurance of police officers being very visible in their
neighbourhood. So we are now using police officers to patrol within and
around the school grounds, organise diversionary activities and resolve
conflicts and help to reduce anti social behaviour, cut crime and create a
safer learning environment for pupils and staff. As part of the
government's street crime initiative we now have 100 officers undertaking
this role. Let me give you just two examples of the benefit this approach.
PC David Atherfold working at Pimlico school in Westminster has cracked down
on unwelcome visitors. When he started, there were young people from
elsewhere coming on to the school site.
>After he reported them for assaults they had committed, they did not
return. Due to this police constable's work the deputy head says that
teaching staff can focus on teaching and learning and the pupils have
someone they can talk to about issues of concern. PC Paul Scott, at
Albion Secondary school in Salford, gets to know pupils due to join the
school the next autumn by helping on sports events in their last primary
year. This week, for example, he refereed the inter-schools five-a-side. At
half term he helped present the prizes for the inter-schools cross-country.
In this way he establishes relationships that enable him to exercise
authority within the school and support the teachers.
>I can confirm that I am working with my colleague, David Blunkett, in his
role as home secretary on how to expand the use of police patrols in and
around schools over the next year. We believe it will help to reduce
disorder and boost the confidence of parents, pupils and teachers in schools
and areas which have been beset by anti social behaviour.
>The role of education welfare officers
>Another change we are considering relates to the role education welfare
officers. They are currently employed by local education authorities and
spend much of their time working with schools dealing with pupils who are
not attending school, are truanting or have some other behaviour problem.
They make home visits, work with the family and have powers to prosecute
>One of the factors common to those schools that are successfully tackling
truanting and behaviour problems is a close working relationship with an
education welfare officer. In some cases the key to that co-operation has
been having the welfare officer based on the school site.
>So much so that some heads are suggesting to us that EWOs should be
employed directly by schools, or groups of schools, and report directly to
them. We have been piloting and evaluating this approach in a number of
schools and we will shortly be consulting teaching organisations, local
authorities, youth offending teams - as well as EWOs themselves - about the
best way to organise the education welfare service.
>Dealing with exclusions Much of what I have said so far has focused on
dealing with behaviour problems within schools. But we need to get the
balance right. You cannot keep a pupil in a particular school at all costs.
Sometimes permanent exclusion is necessary. Exclusion must be an option
available to head teachers. This doesn't mean that excluded pupils should
be written off. We expect LEAs to ensure that excluded pupils continue to
receive good quality full-time education. One option is through the 371
pupil referral units that are now up and running. These units provide
assessment and personal guidance as well as continuing tuition. They help
pupils to face up to the problems they are causing. We also expect LEAs and
schools to work together to place excluded pupils in another school as soon
as it is practical and reasonable to do so. But it must be another school.
A different school. Restoring the authority of head teachers means making
sure that, when a head excludes a pupil for good reasons, the pupil does not
return to that school.
>Recent high-profile cases have seen pupils excluded for serious offences
reinstated by appeal panels. The knee-jerk response from some has been to
say that we should abolish appeal panels. But that cannot be right.
Exclusion is a serious matter and parents must be able to appeal. Abolishing
appeal panels would simply mean many more cases ending up in court, and that
is not in anyone's interests. The right approach is to reform appeal
panels. And that is precisely what I am doing. The new regulations that I am
announcing today will come into force next month. They will make four very
significant changes in the make-up of appeal panels and the way they work.
>First, panels will in future be made up of a serving or retired head
teacher, a school governor and a lay member. In other words people who
understand the realities of dealing with school discipline will from now on
play a major part on the panels.
>Second, the panel will have to balance the interests of the excluded pupil
against those of the school community as a whole. Third, panels will not
be able to overturn exclusions solely on technicalities. And fourth,
panels will be able to conclude that a pupil should not have been excluded
without automatically having to order the pupil's reinstatement. At first
sight, the fourth change may look odd. But the reasoning is simple.
Education depends on relationships between school staff, pupils and
families. Even where an exclusion was not fully justified, relationships may
sometimes have broken down to such an extent that it is no-one's interests
for the pupil to return to that school. Reforming appeal panels will, I
believe, reinforce heads' authority and discipline in schools.
>Making parents face up to their responsibilities Finally, I want to turn
to the role of parents because as we all know discipline begins at home.
Parents must face up to their responsibilities. But I know some parents need
help to do that. So the new measures we will be introducing will combine
sanctions with support.
>Some parents think that responsibility for their child's behaviour stops at
the school gate. I want them to be absolutely clear that it doesn't. So we
are looking at ways of strengthening Home-School Agreements. For example, we
are proposing to introduce parenting contracts when pupils are excluded for
a fixed-term. Parents would be asked to sign a contract agreeing to attend
parenting classes with the aim of improving their child's behaviour. This
would be backed by the threat of a court-imposed Parenting Order if they
refused to sign or broke the contract. Parents' other key responsibility is
making sure their child gets to school every day. Most parents take that
responsibility seriously, but too many do not. The sad fact is that half the
children stopped in the national truancy sweep in May were with their
>The current national sweep and publicity campaign will help to tackle the
problem of condoned truancy. But we need to go further. The first step is to
make best use of existing legislation. Failing to secure your child's
regular attendance at school is, as I highlighted earlier, a criminal
offence for which parents can be prosecuted. But this can be a lengthy
process. So we are developing a faster and more focused approach. From next
month, nine LEAs will act as pathfinders for fast track truancy prosecution.
More LEAs are set to join the project in the months that follow. Parents
who have condoned or ignored truancy will be given 12 weeks to achieve a
sustained improvement in their child's attendance. A court hearing date will
be set for the end of that period. If attendance does not improve the
hearing will take place on that date. If found guilty, parents could face a
fine of up to ֲ£2,500 or imprisonment. If these pathfinder projects are
successful we shall extend the scheme nationwide.
>Simple prosecution is right for the hardest cases. But schools and LEAs
need a wider range of tools to deal with parents in different circumstances.
So we are planning new legislation to give schools and LEAs an explicit
power to arrange parenting contracts for truancy.
>As with contracts for bad behaviour, parents would be asked to sign a
contract agreeing to attend parenting classes and to achieve a sustained
improvement in their child's attendance within a specified period. In most
cases the contract would be backed by the threat of sanctions. So if parents
refused to sign or broke the contract they would be prosecuted or, under
legislation we propose to enact in the forthcoming Anti Social Behaviour
Bill receive a fixed penalty notice. Police and education welfare officers
would have the power to issue fixed penalty notices following truancy sweeps
or in other circumstances where a pupil's absence is clearly unauthorised.
Head teachers will also be able to apply this sanction should they consider
it appropriate. It will be a matter for their judgement. And it will be for
head teachers to set out the precise rules for authorising absence in each
school by, for example, including them in the home school contract. For our
part we shall provide national guidance on how best to do this.
>The level of the fixed penalty would be lower if parents paid promptly.
And as with other fixed penalty schemes parents would, of course, be able to
appeal to a magistrates' court against the imposition of a notice. Fixed
penalty notices are just one part of our assault on truancy and bad
behaviour but they will be a useful way of giving parents a sharp reminder
of their responsibilities.
>Conclusion What I have described in this speech is a major programme of
investment and legislative change aimed at achieving substantial
improvements in behaviour and attendance over the next three years. The
scale of this programme shows the strength of my commitment to raising
standards of discipline in schools by restoring heads' authority. So does
the radical nature of some of the measures it includes. They are bound to
provoke debate, and I look forward to that. Discipline and respect for
authority may be unfashionable concepts. But let's not be afraid to use
them. Because in the end what matters is the future of our children. We
owe it to them to have the chance to grow up in a society that is safe and
to learn in an environment where there is respect for all.
>Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited

----- Original Message -----
From: "Mike Sadofsky" <sadofsky_at_attbi.com>
To: <discuss-sudbury-model_at_sudval.org>
Sent: Wednesday, February 26, 2003 11:59 PM
Subject: Re: [Discuss-sudbury-model] sudbury/summerhill

> On Wed, 26 Feb 2003 13:21:37 -0800 (PST), Hector Ortega
> <hctr76_at_yahoo.com> wrote:
> >How confident can
> >educators, teachers, or anyone interested in reforming
> >schools be that the Sudbury school model would be even
> >possible in areas where most kids live under such
> >conditions. Not that kids who have such problem are
> >less intelligent, but doesn't it make sense to suspect
> >that the damage inflicted at home could become evident
> >at school, where much conflict might be created to the
> >point of jeopardizing the school environment. And
> >isn't it likely that the pain suffered at home might
> >make the kids less inclined to learn or retain their
> >innate interest in life and the world, even when a
> >free environment is provided to them for half of their
> >waking hours?
> >etc.
> So what would you propose here?
> I am not aware of any claims that the Sudbury model is capable of
> overcoming the kinds of severe environmental factors that you
> describe.
> I am certain that you would find supporters of conventional schools
> who would assert that such schools would work much better if they had
> fewer kids who came with this kind of environmental damage and who
> spent their time away from school continually subjected to the same
> home and environmental factors.
> One of the major issues in making a Sudbury school "work" is
> establishing an appropriate culture. One that includes respect for
> the individual, for the institution, for personal and communal
> property, for the pursuit of individual interests, ... All the things
> you've read about in the Sudbury literature.
> Experience has shown that with an established culture, it has been
> possible for some kids who arrive with the kinds of problems you
> describe to change and to find and make something of themselves in a
> Sudbury school. Others may not succeed. If too many "bad apples"
> enter the school at the same time, the institution may be fractured
> (in much the same way that some of the inner city schools find
> themselves fractured today).
> For an interesting take on the latter, you might want to read this.
> http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_1_how_i_joined.html
> Just food for thought.
> Mike
Received on Thu Feb 27 2003 - 11:12:03 EST

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