The government has unveiled its new taskforce to help schools tackle unruly behaviour.

The six advisers (see list below) will join the government’s behaviour tsar Tom Bennett in supporting 20 lead schools with ‘exemplary behaviour’ to help others tackle classroom disruption.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said the £10 million programme, announced in August, would “give all schools the tools they need to improve behaviour by making sure that they can learn from the best”.

The government said its new advisers include current and former school leaders with experience in implementing successful behaviour management practices across primary, secondary special and alternative provision settings.

Behaviour hubs will support these schools with the schools who know how to turn things around

The department is now recruiting up to 20 lead schools to become behaviour hubs and work with the new advisers to support at least 500 schools over three years.

The first wave of lead schools will be matched with partners and start work this September.

Bennett, the DfE’s lead behaviour adviser, said: “There are some incredible schools out there making miracles happen every day, but many schools who, often through no fault of their own, face huge challenges getting there. Behaviour hubs will support these schools with the schools who know how to turn things around.”

The announcements comes after Conservative MP Edward Timpson pushed the government to accelerate its response to his major review into exclusions.

The former children’s minister called for work on proposals to keep schools accountable for the results of the pupils they exclude to be “stepped up and shared outside” of the department.

Timpson also challenged schools minister Nick Gibb on when a promised consultation on reducing the upper limit of fixed-term exclusions will happen.

It was one of several Timpson Review proposals the government vowed to implement in May last year.

Gibb would only say expectations for pupils in alternative provision “have not been high enough in the past… We will consider how we can better assess performance and strengthen accountability for pupils in AP. We will have more to say on that in due course.”

Bennett’s behaviour advisers:

Mark Emmerson, chief executive officer of City of London Academy Trust and formerly principal of Stoke Newington School, The City Academy, Hackney and City of London Academy Islington

Marie Gentles, co-director of Magic Behaviour Management and leadership associate at The Difference charity, former Principal of Hawkswood AP Primary, in London

Michelle Long, executive principal at Dixons Academy Trust and principal of Dixons Music Primary, in Bradford.

Jayne Lowe, director of Bright Green Learning, education adviser, former PRU headteacher and currently supporting Ministry of Justice on ‘Transforming Youth Custody’

Charlie Taylor, chair of Youth Justice Board, former chief executive of National College for Teaching and Leadership and former head of special school The Willows School Academy Trust, in London.

Jenny Thompson, principal of Dixons Trinity Academy, in Bradford


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  1. Surprised Michaela’s Katherine Birbalsingh and Inspiration’s Barry King (vomit in a bucket, also formerly from Michaela) aren’t on the list. Given the amount of ministerial praise awarded to Michaela, this seems an omission.
    Two members from Dixon’s, however.

    • Mark Watson

      I now feel embarrassed that in a comment a week or so ago I praised Janet as being someone who made passionate arguments but didn’t resort to playground insults and being personally offensive.

      Take a long hard look at yourself and think whether using the phrase “vomit in a bucket” is anything other than pathetic.

      • Shaun Whitfield

        Mark, I don’t think ‘vomit in a bucket’ is Janet’s view of the teachers she mentioned, it’s a reference to a ‘zero tolerance’ type response from one of their schools, in that if a child felt sick, they would be given a bucket to vomit in. I think it may be a ploy to deter children from pretending to feel sick in order to leave the classroom. I may be wrong and Janet can speak for herself anyway.

        • Mark Watson

          Whoops, I think you’re right. I hang my head in shame and beg Janet’s forgiveness!

          I did think it was out of character which is why I commented. As it turns out I just ended up making a fool out of myself. Not the first time, and I’m sure not the last.

          Apologies again for impugning you Janet ………

    • Linda Guest

      I do not know the full CVs of the others but Jayne Lowe has an incredible track record in SEN and has supported many LAs, schools and practitioners like myself with her knowledge and experience. I don’t think you can make a judgement about a person from a one line summary of their career.
      I myself was concerned about how representative this group would be but actually feel heartened when I know that there are people like Jayne involved as she has definitely walked the walk.
      I hope that you will be pleasantly surprised with the work that comes out of this taskforce.

  2. S downing

    Wow an entire article of behaviour and not one mention of Sen. But then again don’t bite the hand that feeds right. How much is this going to cost? And how much “transition time” is going to be spent before it’s shut down as a failure and “nobody could have predicted why? Let’s take a guess shall we:
    – The majority of school budgets have been decimated by stupid budget cuts, being expected to be front line services in the community as a result and then expect to buy into services they need but can’t afford.
    – The majority of those suspended are Sen meaning that these units are going to be filled up with Sen children but hey if it’s behaviour then we don’t have to invest in Sen because the behaviour label can be applied faster than the months to years waiting list for an assessment and report (did you notice there’s no actual support there though) system in place that’s functioning.
    – Families, charities and even government tribunal statistics have pointed out for years since the change in law as to the reasons why Sen is being affected but hey behaviour is the reason and budget cuts are austerity and the two are not linked at all.
    – Schools in high crime areas and high poverty areas have always struggled with behaviour that is outside the normal sit down and study but if the support structures are not there now (like I don’t know supporting young carers, supporting kids to stay put of gangs, food poverty, file poverty, homeless) then what good are these hubs going to be except hide the problem for a short period of time?

    The bottom line is the 20 schools are mostly going to be in areas that don’t have allot of the needs a mainstream in an inner city school has and it will become a self fulfilling prophecy of we were right it was behaviour before it disintegration into yet another place for Sen children to be put but not taught, for the sake of the school obviously.
    Then after how ever many years it will be cut, nothing will change and there will be another idea based on social opinion and not the mountains of evidence that shows where help is actually needed.
    God help us.

  3. Jo Clayton

    SEND. Let’s just gloss over the lack of funding, the consistent lies and illegal policies of many schools and local authorities and the absolute travesty of the EHCP system and the underfunded, understaffed and under-resourced Children and Adolescent Mental Health System. Blame the kids. How very civilised Mr Williamson.