The Somerset Pastoral Support Plan (PSP) provides a framework and template for responding to children and young people who present with challenging behaviour in education settings. It is a trauma-informed approach that draws on functional analysis and promotes a holistic perspective to inform evidence-based solutions.
The PSP should be used as part of the ladder of response where there are presenting challenging behaviours that put a child or young person at risk of suspension or exclusion. The support plan is appropriate for those who have been identified as having special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND) and also appropriate for those who have not been identified as having SEND. The PSP provides a framework for analysing the factors that might be influencing behaviours so that the approaches used can be based on this assessment. This is in line with DfE guidance:
Schools should, as far as possible, anticipate likely triggers of misbehaviour and put in place support to prevent these (DfE, 2022, p.15).
Where suspensions are becoming a regular occurrence for a pupil, headteachers and schools should consider whether suspension alone is an effective sanction for the pupil and whether additional strategies need to be put in place to address behaviour (DfE, 2023)
An effective Pastoral Support Plan will be strengths-based and there should be clear monitoring systems for progress, use of baseline data to ensure impact can be measured reliably and amendments to the plan as needed. A PSP is usually led by the educational setting and it should have the following features:
Effective Assessment and Planning through:
- Gathering and considering the views of the child / young person and the views of the parent carer
- Use of behavioural analysis using the STAR Charting
- Consideration of life history and potential impact of adverse experiences and/or trauma on development and behaviour.
- Assessment of SEND using the graduated response tool, linking with other services as required, e.g. speech and language therapy service, Inclusion Somerset.
- A Team around the child approach, coordinating with the right people in school as well as support services outside of school.
- Clear review as part of an APDR cycle
The PSP process involves three stages that will be outlined in more detail: Information gathering, the PSP meeting and a review.
Stage 1: Information gathering
The purpose of this stage is to gather information that is important for the PSP meeting. Gathering information offers an opportunity to reflect on what has already been tried, identify successes and to identify barriers to engagement in schooling. It also offers the opportunity to ensure everyone is aware of contextual factors which may be impacting on the CYP’s ability to access education successfully.
There are four elements to consider and gather information on prior to and during the PSP meeting:
1. Behavioural analysis:
This involves analysing behaviours to assess for patterns and the STAR chart can be used for this, to support understanding of how the behaviours are linked to environmental factors, what the key triggers could be and what function might be maintaining the behaviour.
Key question prompts to explore during stage 1:
- Where and when is the pupil being successful in school? Why?
- What patterns have been identified (e.g. time of day, particular lessons etc.)
- What behaviours are presenting as a challenge? What are the perceived triggers/causes for these behaviours? What does that behaviour communicate to us?
- How do the CYPs life experiences fit into the present behavioural patterns/presentations?
- Are the CYPs basic needs being met, e.g. healthy food, shelter, play, positive relationships and to feel a sense of self-worth?
- If not, how might this link to what is observed?
2. Information about SEND
The link between SEND and behaviour is strong and the evidence suggests that identifying needs clearly can inform the right provision that reduces the risk of exclusion. Accurate identification of need is important irrespective of whether the child or young person is identified as having SEND, is supported at SEN Support or whether they have an EHCP. The Somerset Graduated Response Tool provides the framework for assessment of SEND and additional support is available through engagement with external agencies and/or the inclusion advice line.
3. Parent carer views
Parent carers know their children well and are a fundamental part of jointly developing the understanding and also the solutions around a child or young person. Some prompts for gaining the parental perspective might include exploring the following areas:
- When is the child/young person at their best? Why?
- Relevant early development and experiences. E.g. Pre-birth/birth, developmental milestones, medical history, experiences of trauma/loss.
- What differences are there in how the child/young person presents at home versus at school and what might explain this difference?
- Family dynamics – important family members in the CYP life, who they live with, support networks, clubs/activities completed outside of school time.
- What do the family feel the biggest supports/barriers are for the CYP at the moment?
- What are the family priorities for change? What would change look like? What do the family hope the CYP can achieve/feel/do differently from how things are now?
4. Child young person views
Gaining the views and perspectives of the child / young person is a fundamental part of the process. This should usually be done before the meeting separately and often works best when completed by a familiar and trusted adult.
Avoid a formal discussion arrangement and instead make use of pictures, cards and visual cues that you can use to do scaling, draw on etc. ELSAs are often well placed to support the gathering of pupil views. Key things to consider during this would be:
- Use scaling (1-10) to explore how school is going, what makes it this number, how it could be higher up etc.
- Ask about whether they feel they belong at school, i.e. whether they feel accepted and valued by others and like they fit in. Consider using a sense of belonging scale to support this.
- Explore their perceptions and views on academic achievement and confidence, friendships and peer relationships and on adult relationships.
- What are the best bits of school and what are the not good bits, unpick why this is.
- What are their strengths generally and what makes them happiest?
- Explore emotions – how are they feeling generally, in the mornings, in the afternoons, on the weekends – if there are anxieties then what are these?
- Ask specifically about behaviour and their view on this and what they feel would help them
- What would be an ideal day at school?
- What should other people do in a crisis situation to help?
- Explore motivation around change, what they want to develop and where they see themselves in 6 months’ time.
Stage 2: The PSP meeting
This is a collaborative meeting usually led by a member of staff and bringing in relevant others such as the family/CYP (where appropriate) /other school staff, and external agencies as required. The meeting offers a space and structure to work collaboratively, summarise key themes from stage 1 and agree to these as a group. Following this analysis, a shared and agreed plan will be made, with key people and resources identified. The nominated lead for the meeting should use the template provided and ensure all areas are covered sufficiently. It is an essential part of the process that the group agree to the likely functions that are driving behaviour (e.g. peer approval, work avoidance) and that the action plan includes approaches that address these functions directly.
The meeting will take at least 1 hour and will need to be in a location where everyone feels as comfortable as possible. This meeting should usually be held face to face with all contributors in the room together and fully present in their attendance throughout the meeting.
As with any plan, ensuring implementation is essential. This requires the setting lead to be responsible for overseeing actions that are completed as needed. As part of the implementation phase, short-term check-ins should happen regularly to monitor actions and the impact of these. This may include checking in regularly with the CYP and staff to support them in identifying short-term successes, and problem-solving.
Stage 3: Review
This meeting will require everyone from the initial meeting at stage 2 to come back together to review the implementation of the plan previously agreed upon. If there have been changes to additional agencies offering support then it would be appropriate to bring them into this review meeting also. This meeting will be between 45 minutes to 1 hour long and should be held face-to-face.