• Question: What is the science of dealing with student behaviour for stealing? Do in school suspensions have positive outcomes?

    Asked by dwellsey to Yvonne, Sara, Richard, modsu, Mike, Matt, Lorna, Kathryn, Jacob, Emma, Efrat, Courtenay, Camilla on 24 Apr 2018.
    • Photo: Su Morris

      Su Morris answered on 24 Apr 2018:


      This isn’t an area I have expertise in, however I spotted some research undertaken in New Zealand that looked at an intervention with 3 pre-adolescent children which might be of interest – https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10092/1545/thesis_fulltext.pdf?…1

      And this report looked at relationships between stealing and other behaviours in adolescents – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3671850/ – they found relationships with other behaviours including substance and alcohol abuse, and suggest this may be related to poor impulse control. “Regardless of the underlying mechanisms for the association between stealing and other externalizing behaviors, these results raise concern that stealing in some adolescents may be reflective of a broader psychopathology of addiction. This has implications for primary care or school settings, where screening and brief interventions around stealing, smoking and other drug use could be implemented.”

      Also, this research report from the University of Sussex looked at examples of good practice in exclusions, and some alternatives – https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=reducing-inequalities-in-school-exclusion—learning-from-good-practice-annex-a.pdf&site=387

      This research evaluated 3 projects set up to address the number of exclusions – http://www.leeds.ac.uk/educol/documents/00001633.htm
      The conclusion from this study was: “The research suggested that the setting up of Multi-disciplinary behaviour support teams and In-school centres was not of itself a guarantee of a reduction in exclusions from school. Projects effective in reducing exclusions were implemented with the full commitment of school management; involved the whole school; included parents; and placed the responsibility for their behaviour on pupils. No single intervention, e.g. anger management, peer support, counseling, appeared to be effective unless these criteria were satisfied. Where they were satisfied the projects had cost benefits in the short and long term; promoted a more positive school ethos; and generated change which was likely to continue in the long-term.”

    • Photo: Richard Churches

      Richard Churches answered on 4 Jun 2018:


      I have not come across any controlled research into this area, yet. Which is surprising as it is a key area to look at. This is probably because we still use only a limited range of trial designs. If we look at wider fields such as surgery we can see ways in which we could explore such difficult to research areas. In many cases, surgical interventions cannot be put on hold while a large enough sample is recruited. The answer is to randomise the treatment slots in advance of having any patients. The patients then go into the treatment slots as they present themselves for treatment. In a school context, it might work in the following way. In one school where I worked, I was asked by the head teacher to be the head of house temporarily as they had a vacancy. I had previously led the pastoral team as part of a senior management role in another school. This particular school, a large comprehensive in the south-east of London, had four houses and a disciplinary system in which heads of subject could send students to the head of house room at the end of the day if they had broken rules. Heads of house then had the option to put the children on report (which involved every lesson and every day being signed off by teachers and parents and a return to the house room at the end of each day). As the option was always there to apply ‘zero tolerance’ or to give a ‘final warning’ instead, I always wondered (and still do to this day) which was the best course of action. in many cases, surgical interventions cannot be put on hold while a large enough sample is recruited. The answer is to randomise the treatment slots in advance of having any patients. The patients then go into the treatment slots as they present themselves for treatment. If I had thought about it I could have randomly allocated two hundred treatment slots (control and intervention) and looked to see what was more effective. If anyone is interested in conducting such a trial into behaviour management – do let me know.

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