EBD to Mainstream

There are a number of programmes and checklists that  are used in the decision to attempt a return to mainstream school for a pupil in a special school for children with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) . I propose that we turn this on its head and ask what characteristics the receiving school needs to have in order for a successful transfer to be made.

In my experience, all children are “potentially mainstream” and I would recommend that rather than look at the “suitability of the child” for reintegration, we could refer back to the excellent but underused document “Removing Barriers to Achievement”. My experience tells me that is the school, peer group and teachers to which the child with BESD is to be returned that need to be assessed, prepared and supported, as much as, if not more than, the focus child. Our starting point is to identify and remove barriers in the target school, not the child.

What I would focus on is the provision needed by the child, in addition to the skill set, inclinations, motivation and perceptions of the child. A clear description of the teaching approaches, curricular material and  teaching and therapeutic techniques needed will be a good starting point for finding out what preparation/training and support will be needed by the receiving school.

I am sure that you will also agree that where there is a will there is a way. Some schools are managing to meet the needs of children with similar needs to some of your pupils because they want to. Other schools with similar resources cannot. Whilst I agree that we need to ask the question “What will this particular pupil gain from a return to mainstream and how can the change be planned in such a way as to minimise risk and maximise gain”, there is a danger that we could end up devising a “ready for reintegration” scale that many pupils in our mainstream schools would fail.

I have attended a couple of conference sessions in recent years where psychologists and teachers described their experience of reintegrating pupils from EBD schools/residential settings that were closed down and also heard about a service that helps CLA with BESD to reintegrate into a new school. Important features of success included complete honesty about the child, a welcoming attitude from the receiving school and helping each and every teacher to prepare for avoidable problems and planning for success. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that some of those returning from special EBD schools to mainstream comprehensives were better behaved and more emotionally stable than the incumbents.

In Germany, special schools for speech and language and those for emotional and behavioural difficulties are called “transition” schools, indicating that they are always meant to be preparation for mainstream school or college. This leaves the referring school in little doubt that the plan is to return the child after work has been done both with the child and the referring school to improve the future match of needs and provision.

Interesting how the use of language can change the whole perception of the purpose of a school.

Now read: Misbehaving on the School Bus

Choice Theory: The Quality World

9 Questions about Detention

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