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Supporting positive behaviour

25 November 2019

A group of teachers and teaching assistants has become Jersey’s first school team to qualify as national coaches to support the emotional wellbeing of children.

A total of eight Mont à L’Abbé staff have qualified as Positive Behaviour Support Coaches – a national programme run by the British Institute of Learning Difficulties and the Centre for the Advancement of Positive Behaviour Support. Another member of staff will undertake the training in March. 

The qualifications mean the teaching staff can assess behaviour and create positive behaviour support plans, in collaboration with students and their families.

Mont à L’Abbé head teacher Liz Searle said: “Along with three existing members of staff, we are the first ‘in house’ fully trained team School PBS in Jersey. Our overall aim is to increase the quality of life for our children and young people, and their families. By improving the quality of life of our learners we aim to reduce incidents of anxious behaviours which may challenge and, therefore, the potential need for restrictive practices.

“We are happy to work with our young people and families to help unpick behaviour and put support plans in place.”

Although the school has not seen a rise, as such, in anxious behaviours which may present challenges, Mrs Searle said that the school community had risen by 57 per cent in the past five years, which meant that staff have required further training.

“We have gone from a community of 66 pupils in 2014 to 107 this year so we need to ensure that our staff are trained to the highest level,” she said. “We are the only Special learning-difficulty and disability school in Jersey so we need ensure that we are offering the best to our learners and their families.”

The Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, said: “This national training has developed over a number of years and represents a combination of the most effective behavioural intervention strategies endorsed by both professional and national standards bodies within the field of learning disabilities. I am delighted that Mont à L’Abbé have committed to promoting this student-centred approach that will have a positive impact on the young people they support.”

The Centre for the Advancement of Positive Behaviour Support defines Positive Behaviour Support as a ‘multi-element approach to working with adults and children with complex behaviours. It involves developing an understanding of why, when and how behaviours happen and what purpose they serve for the individual’.

Training took place in Jersey over three days in May, delivered by a UK consultant, and culminated in a final training day and presentations this week. The next step for the teaching staff is to undertake further training so they can carry out detailed analysis of the function of behaviours. Such assessments are currently completed by the Positive Behaviour Support Team at Health and Community Services, which primarily supports adults.​

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