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Multi-agency approach to reducing exclusions – Great Torrington School

Describe the situation prior to intervention

Prior to this intervention a Year 7 Child in Care was exhibiting inappropriate and poorly regulated physical interactions with peers. Although their attendance was good a series of Fixed Term Exclusions meant that without intervention a Permanent Exclusion was imminent.

What did the school do?

The school referred the pupil for the REDS intervention through their Educational Psychology Service.  This intervention supported the school to translate exhibitive behaviours into pupil needs; the multi-agency team supporting the pupil met to describe the difficulties the pupil was facing at school. These behaviours were then listed as needs, which could then be matched to support and intervention. This list of pupil needs were key to ensuring everyone involved understood why the behaviour was happening.

What other factors lead to success?

The key to success was the positive inclusive mindset of the school.  Staff took collective ownership of the pupil; the commitment and empathy of staff meant that even in challenging times they did not give up on supporting this pupil.  The role of the Pupil Coach was critical to the plan being executed consistently on a daily basis.

“I think having someone giving an objective view of the behaviours was helpful to staff.  Having help to identify strategies… has been hugely helpful to the school.”
(School Pastoral Leader)

This intervention was well planned; the pupil’s needs were known years prior to joining the school so work began early on to form trusted relationships with school staff.

What are the outcomes?

This intervention saw an immediate reduction in challenging behaviours; the risk of permanent exclusion fell from a 9/10 likelihood to 1/10 very quickly.  Now, over two years later, the pupil has started to self-regulate their behaviours and can recognise and search out support for themselves.
The pupil remains in this mainstream school; there have been occasional setbacks but the risk of permanent exclusion has diminished. The pupil has more positive peer relationships and trusts the adults at school to support him.  The carer feels strongly that this intervention made the difference.

“We really feel that it potentially saved his academic career as well as our placement” (Carer)

What can we learn from this case study?

The REDS project encouraged exhibitive behaviours to be translated into needs; the school’s SEND leader says that even two years on the original list of needs derived from the REDs programme are still used regularly by school staff.  The school’s strategic approach was focused upon the pupil needs, rather than the presenting behaviours.  This gave a very clear focus to interventions and support. Even though they had a strategic plan, they remained flexible to change their approach when challenges arose.
The school feel the “consistent trusted adults” were the key to the success of this pupil staying in a mainstream school.  Indeed relationships and communication played a key part.  It was clear that leaders foster a strong culture of ownership of SEND pupils across the school exemplified by the other members of the leadership team being involved in review meetings.  This was a truly collaborative intervention both from within and outside the school.  Outside agencies worked together on the agreed plan; essential in this success was the role of the SEND leader to coordinate all the professionals involved then communicate with school staff to drive forward the agreed plan.  This case really illustrates how inclusion works best when an inclusive mindset is truly embedded into the fabric of a school.

“Staff are invested in the pupils from the beginning” (School SEND Leaders)