There are a number of reasons why:
- Safe, secure schools are fundamental to student wellbeing. No child’s wellbeing can be excellent when they are in a chaotic, unsafe school environment. Bullying and assaults, fear and intimidation run rife in schools where behaviour is left unchecked. Imagine being a child in that environment, spending a third of your day in such traumatic circumstances. The anxiety, the fear and the unpredictability will inevitably lead to their wellbeing plummeting. This funding aims to stop that, and to ensure that every child attends a school free of the curse of poor behaviour.
- Students’ self-esteem is directly affected by behaviour. Young people have a voracious appetite for learning. Learning is inherently fun. And there is no feeling quite like learning something difficult, persisting with it, and rising to the challenge. It makes young people develop resilience and increases their self-esteem, knowing that they have achieved something. In a school environment where poor behaviour is rife, this level of learning suffers. Students cannot focus. Teachers cannot teach. No one can excel. The investments aim to ensure that all students can thrive in their learning.
- Mental health. A lot of the criticism of the behaviour funding came from those concerned that the funding could have been better used towards student mental health. However, schools cannot and should not be the primary provision and intervention with mental health. Schools are, by their very nature, in the best position to notice when a student’s mental health is in decline. Indeed, it is far easier to notice that in a school environment free from disruption. However, teachers are not mental health practitioners. They’re subject and pedagogical experts. We wouldn’t ask our teachers to fix a student’s broken leg, so why would we expect them to fix students’ mental health conditions? It does our young people a disservice to suggest that we could. Naturally, we support them through it, and offer that support wherever we can, but ultimately health needs need to be met by health professionals.