The resource I am evaluating is a Behaviour Management Toolkit to be used for children in Key Stage Two, (KS2), with behavioural, emotional and/or social difficulties, (BESD). The primary aim of this toolkit was to help Teachers and Teaching Assistants, (TA's) with strategies and concepts to help with the behaviour management of a specific child, (Child A - See Appendix A), who joined our school in Year 6. One of the schools main aim was to help Child A manage his own behaviour and social interaction with his peers and adults before his transition to senior school. However, the toolkit has proved to be of use with other individual children with BESD and for use in general with small groups of children.
As with many resources this toolkit has been adapted over time to suit the needs of the children and the staff in our school. One of the main advantages of the toolkit is that is can be adapted to most situations and comments can be added by staff indicating what worked and what didn't. This is a huge benefit of the toolkit as it is always up to date and relevant to our school and the children we support. It's also extremely useful when working with outside agencies as they can add to it as well as access comments made by staff about what they feel worked for particular children, this enables the agencies to tailor their help and advice around strategies we've already tried.
The toolkit itself takes the form of a card index system (See Appendix-B), and was created from many different sources including: School behaviour policy, Safe-Guarding Children policy, Every Child Matters and other Government initiatives, Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning Packs (SEAL), Teachers, Teaching Assistants, The Advisory Teaching Service and Educational Psychologist. Information gathered from these sources pulls on a great deal of experience, knowledge and understanding of many aspects of behaviour, social and emotional problems that children may encounter. Amalgamating all this information in one place makes it an invaluable resource as so much time is saved as staff don't have to go searching for different policies and resources etc; all the searching has already been done for them and laid out for them to access easily.
Our own life experiences show us that our emotions affect the way in which we think, behave, reason and make decisions. A little stress or anxiety can aid us in our decision making and can enable us to produce work of a good standard; but high levels, especially when consistent, have the ability to affect our cognition and well being and can ultimately led to poor health. It is widely believed that high levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the body when experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress, can affect brain function, especially memory which may, in turn, lead to behaviour problems.
This leads on well to Maslow's hierarchy of need which states that each level of need has to be met before true potential can be actualised. I believe that Child A lives with fairly high levels of stress and anxiety due to his family problems and his living arrangements, and this leads to many of Maslow's needs not being met, which could consequently be leading to many of his behavioural, social and emotional difficulties.
Many theorists argue between nature and nurture and the effect of these on child development and behavioural issues; in my opinion, I believe that they both have an effect but when basics are missing, i.e. not knowing where you will be living, insecurities within parental and sibling relationships, self worth and self esteem; the child reacts to their situation and uncertainties regardless of nature or nurture. They react to try and protect themselves and to take some control over their situation and this is often when inappropriate behaviour and language occurs. By using the toolkit we are pulling on many different sources of knowledge which will hopefully start to help Child A feel safe and secure in his school environment, that he belongs and that his opinion matters to us and to his peers. In addition to this we are trying to help him with his self esteem, self efficacy and self worth with the hope that he may, in time, start to achieve his true potential. This is particularly important as Child A is already in year six and will soon be starting the transition process to a much larger secondary school where his stress and anxiety levels are quite likely to rise due to the huge changes that will be taking place in his school life.
When trying to help a child with so many complex problems any resource is a valuable commodity and the advice from professionals is a huge part of this. Whilst dealing with Child A I have received help and advice from many different agencies that are always available and generally have an abundance of different strategies, resources or just advice to help with a huge range of issues. Working closely with these professionals has greatly added to the toolkit, not only can they provide many different resources and strategies but sometimes they just offer that different way of looking at a situation which can be so enlightening. Contact numbers of these professionals are in the toolkit but staff are requested to contact the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) for advice in the first instance, if at all possible, to prevent duplicate phone calls or e-mails.
Staff are also asked to add any relevant information they receive on courses they attend, this enables all staff to be aware of the toolkit, how it is used and how they can help to improve the way we deal with BESD within our school. Staff meetings are also used to voice any concerns any member of staff may have on any child and this is often a good time to reflect on how useful this resource has been and how it could be used for different children.
Due to the nature of a child with BESD you never know when or where problems will arise, this is a downside of the toolkit as it's not a very portable resource and generally remains in Child A's classroom. In addition to this sometimes the resources it directs you to are being used elsewhere or have just been moved, this is frustrating but is normally resolved fairly quickly. Time is always an issue in school and having to comment on a strategy or a resources' usefulness can be a chore especially if a number of issues arise during one day, which is always a possibility. School policies and Government initiatives are also always changing which impacts on the toolkit as information has to be updated which is time consuming and can often get overlooked due to the nature of the school day which is always invariably busy.
Overall the use of this toolkit in school has proved to be beneficial, not only to the intended child but to the wider school as a whole as it provides guidance at a glance for many issues that could arise during the school day. In addition to this it is continually updated through practical experience within the school setting making it an invaluable resource for both teachers and teaching assistants. It's also a great asset for staff or professionals that are unfamiliar with our school or a particular child. This really shows when the class has a supply teacher or a TA that is covering for the normal TA, as they are able to access the toolkit and they can see what strategies have proved to be successful with a child and continue with that practice. This helps the school to remain consistent in its approach when dealing with behaviour issues and with the wider social and emotional issues that children often experience. The toolkit's main downfall is that often when issues arise with children it's not appropriate to refer to the toolkit, but issues are generally dealt with through staff's own instinct and knowledge and then guidance sought for further intervention. This toolkit is a very useful, albeit slightly time consuming resource that I would recommend to anyone who has a number of children with BESD within their school.
- Lindon, J. (2005) Understanding Child Development Linking Theory and Practice. London, Hodder Education