What do we want to know?
Behaviour management is high on the education policy and practice agenda in England and the rest of the UK, as well as other areas of the world. Whole-school policies are advocated for managing the behaviour of all pupils, with specialist approaches nested within these for children who might be deemed to have ‘emotional and behavioural difficulties’ (EBD) or ‘social, emotional and behavioural difficulties’ (SEBD). This group of children raises interesting issues for the intersection of behaviour management policies, inclusive schooling and the drive for raising academic standards. A combination of government policies in England has encouraged schools to include as many pupils as possible within mainstream schools and at the same time to reach ever-higher academic standards.
Many different strategies for teachers to support children have been advocated. This review considers which of these strategies are effective, for whom, and in what circumstances. It also aims to identify way to support trainee teachers to use such strategies. It updates an earlier review on this topic and focuses in depth on strategies evaluated in the UK.
Who wants to know?
School staff (e.g. teachers, special educational needs co-ordinators), trainee teachers, initial teacher education providers, parents and children.
What did we find?
Recent UK studies have evaluated strategies which use a whole-school approach and involve working in partnership with parents and other agencies. However, none of the studies identified for in-depth review was judged to offer a high weight of evidence for establishing strategy effectiveness, and in each case, the reviewers concluded that the study results were inconclusive. No relevant studies on supporting trainee teachers were identified.
What are the implications?
There is only a small evidence base to help teachers choose a strategy for supporting children with EBD in their classroom and this evidence base is described in the earlier review. Teachers need to be aware that many strategies being implemented have not been subject to rigorous research. They will need to be evaluated if they are to be used as a basis for policy development. The evidence base for supporting trainee teachers to use these strategies is even smaller. Recent UK studies suggest that primary school trainee teachers should expect to work in a multi-disciplinary way with colleagues in school and from other services to provide support for the pupils with EBD in their classrooms.
How did we get these results?
The review synthesised the results of five studies, all conducted in the UK.
This summary was prepared by the EPPI-Centre
This report should be cited as: Harden A, Thomas J, Evans J, Scanlon M, Sinclair J (2003) Supporting pupils with emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD) in mainstream primary schools: a systematic review of recent research on strategy effectiveness (1999 to 2002). In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London.