This week’s issue of Behaviour Matters looks at how individual education, behaviour and pastoral plans can be implemented in the classroom to meet pupils’ needsIntroduction

Individual education plans (IEPs), pastoral support plans (PSPs) and behaviour plans (BPs) were once innovational ways to ensure a planned and appropriately targeted approach to meeting the individual needs of a named pupil. They now form a common and effective element of most teaching and learning environments. Much time, energy and expertise has been directed into writing clear teaching plans that are based on assessment, monitoring and evaluation. The targeted approach ensures that the pupils’ abilities have been assessed and that achievable, measurable targets have been set. It is interesting to note the component parts of an individual education, behaviour, or pastoral plan:

1. Targets.

2. Resources required.

3. Key people involved.

4. Monitoring systems.

5. Evaluation.

6. Arrangements necessary and criteria for success.

Special educational needs coordinators (SENCOs) have become highly skilled in baseline assessments and in writing clear, accurate individual plans. Perhaps, however, some problems still lie in the interpretation of the plans. Pupils, parents, teaching and non-teaching staff may all be involved in the planning stage of the IEPs, IBPs etc − some at the information-gathering stage, some at the assessment stage and, obviously for teaching staff, at the delivery stage. For pupils with learning needs, the necessary resources and multi-sensory approaches are clearly stated and progress is regularly evaluated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case for pupils whose main difficulty is behaviour related. Key elements of any behaviour plan must include:

  • consistent application of arrangements.

Difficulties will soon become apparent, especially when a range of teachers teach the individual pupil. In a secondary school environment, for example, one pupil could come into contact with more than a dozen members off staff in one week. This makes consistency and accuracy very difficult. It is one thing being aware of the numbers of pupils who have some form of individual plan in your teaching group, it is quite another to be clear and knowledgeable of the resources, special arrangements, teaching style and monitoring systems suggested within them. One thing is clear, schools must have a system in place that recognises these difficulties and encourages all staff to be fully conversant with the contents of all individual plans. Responsibility may be shared, particularly when teaching assistants and learning support staff are available.

Practical Tips
You should make yourself aware of the pupils in your groups who have individual plans. The targets set should dictate and guide your lesson planning, together with suggested resources. In the case of pupils with behavioural difficulties, there are some important, if not vital, sections of the IEP, which you will need to be aware of.

Take a look at the “Arrangements” section, not simply at the time allocation for a particular activity or the specific resource that has been suggested but, more precisely, your role in the IEP, BSP and PSP. It is all too easy for a target such as: “Refrain from calling out over a 15-minute timed period.” Whether you think the above is a clear and measurable target is certainly important, but possibly more important is how you are going to help the pupil to achieve the target. If all you are going to do is remind the pupil of their target at the start of the lesson, and then record the number of times he or she calls out, the only information will be exactly that − ie the number of time he or she called out. What you are actually attempting to do is reduce the number of incidents; your help and behaviour are paramount to the success of the pupil. You may choose to use rewards and/or consequences to help the pupil make good choices, but remember how powerful proactive behaviour can be. You are the adult in the classroom − you are there to role model, intervene, remind, reward and monitor behaviour, particularly that of the pupils with individual plans. A proactive style of teaching can ensure success for the pupil with behavioural difficulties. These proactive arrangements should be included in the IEP and discussed with all those who teach the pupil. For the above target, the following tactics or strategies can be employed to aid the pupil in attaining success:

  • Give a reminder of the target at the start of the lesson (this could be verbal or pictorial).
  • Ensure consistency of approach with your teaching assistant.
  • Use low-level management techniques: scanning, proximity, verbal praise and secret signals, such as thumbs up.
  • Put more emphasis on success and “on-target behaviour” rather than the negative recording of incidents.

For some pupils their difficult behaviour is a choice they have made − your actions could help them make better choices. For other pupils their difficult behaviour is not a choice, they simply struggle to conform − your interpretation of their individual plan can help them change and learn more acceptable behaviour.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in May 2008

About the author: Dave Stott has nearly 30 years’ teaching experience including seven years as a headteacher. He has worked in mainstream and special schools and Local Authority Behaviour Support Services, and is now a wrtier, consultant and trainer.