Dáil Éireann - Volume 623 - 04 July, 2006
Written Answers. - Disruptive Behaviour.
Mr. English Mr. English
Mr. English asked the Minister for Education and Science the timeframe for the implementation of the Task Force on Student Behaviour; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25802/06]
Ms Hanafin Ms Hanafin
Ms Hanafin:In launching “School Matters” the final Report of the Task Force on Student Behaviour in Second Level Schools, I outlined a package of measures to tackle student behaviour issues. In my view, implementation of the report must be approached in a prioritised and carefully structured way.
The putting in place of a Behaviour Support Team is at the core of many of the Task Force recommendations. I see it as a critical first step in their implementation. The role of this team will span the spectrum from diagnosis of school problems to assistance with remediation. It is expected that this team will be in place in the next school year and will be working with up to 50 schools. This team will work with schools that are experiencing significant discipline problems. It will be staffed by experienced practitioners from across the education sector, including additional psychologists dedicated to this area.
The Behaviour Support Team will become intensively involved in the school over a period of time. The desired outcome of this is an identification, at school level, of those measures and changes which need to be put in place in order to bring about a real and sustained improvement in student behaviour.
I also intended to trial up to 30 Behaviour Support Classrooms in those schools experiencing severe behavioural difficulties with students. Schools chosen to trial a Behaviour Support Classroom will be expected to demonstrate a real commitment to dealing with all causes of the discipline problem in their school.
The recruitment of Behaviour Support Team has already commenced with advertisements appearing in the national press. Allowing for the fact that we will undoubtedly be drawing many of the members of the team from the school system, it is nonetheless my intention that it will be fully operating in the next school year.
The Junior Certificate Schools Programme is a critical intervention in many schools at present and one which is proposed for expansion by the Task Force. It is intended to allow appropriate and focused expansion of this programme where  proposals to this effect result from the engagement of the Behaviour Support Team with individual schools.
The Task Force report recommends the expansion of existing Youth Encounter Projects and Youthreach services instead of putting in place a new service of out of school provision. My Department’s Regional Offices network will compile a comprehensive list of existing alternative educational provision nationwide, which the Behaviour Support Team will analyse. This will in turn provide a capacity to augment existing provision where gaps exist.
The Task Force also recommended that the Section 29 legislation be amended to stress the rights of the compliant majority to learn while at the same time protecting the rights of the persistently disruptive student to an education. It also recommends that the timeframe involved in these appeals be looked at. I have decided to review existing legislation in order to take account of the Task Force recommendations and to bring forward amending legislation as soon as this review is complete.
The report’s recommendations require action and engagement from a wide range of participants in our education system. For my part, as Minister, I have given a clear statement of my commitment to sustained and considered action in dealing with the issue of student behaviour.
Dáil Éireann 623 Written Answers. Disruptive Behaviour.