More than 300 highly disruptive primary school students will be subject to intensive intervention and management each year, as part of the Carpenter Government’s zero tolerance approach to bad behaviour in State schools.
Speaking at the WA Primary Principals’ Association Conference, Education and Training Minister Mark McGowan said the Government would establish five primary behaviour centres throughout the metropolitan area, to be operational from July.
Mr McGowan said the new centres would be located in the Canning, Fremantle, Peel, Swan and West Coast education districts and provide an outreach program to country schools.
They would build on the success of the secondary behaviour centres, which were established by the Government in June last year as part of a one-year trial project.
“These centres, which will be fully staffed with psychologists and teachers specially trained in behaviour management, have been established to deal with those students that display persistently disruptive or aggressive behaviour,” he said.
“They will replace the existing SPER centres and will receive an additional $2million a year in funding.
“This brings the annual total for the Primary Behaviour Centres to $4million, effectively doubling the previous amount.”
The Minister said schools were faced with an increasingly complex range of social issues which affected student behaviour and were beyond the realm of school control or influence.
“It is not the role of teachers to act as parents,” he said.
“Classroom teachers and students should not be expected to cope with severely disruptive behaviour.
“This State Government views community safety as paramount and teachers deserve to work in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning.
“At last year’s WAAPA Conference, I said I would not tolerate violent and aggressive behaviour in schools and that is why I have today announced another strategic initiative to tackle the issue.
“Furthermore, the behaviour of these few students also adversely affects the progress of other students in the classroom, as well as their own academic and social development.
“We know that the earlier we put effective programs in place for these students, the greater the chance of success."
While the primary behaviour centres will focus on helping the students and teachers within the child’s classroom initially, in some circumstances it may be necessary to remove the student from the school.
“In cases where the primary behaviour centre is too far away for a very young student, say a six-year-old, a different location may be chosen, such as the District Office or another nearby school,” Mr McGowan said.
“However, the management of the student will always be undertaken by the expert staff from the behaviour centres.
“Each student will have a full behaviour assessment and will be individually case managed.
“It is essential that agencies like the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Department for Child Protection work with schools to support the most challenging children.
“A State-wide advisory board will be set up to link all of these agencies.
“A comprehensive evaluation will also be set up to ensure the services are meeting the needs of the students and their schools.”
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