JIS News

The Ministry of Education is preparing a Behaviour Management Strategy that will take a strategic approach to improving student behaviour by seeking the involvement of the community, to ensure a comprehensive approach.
The Strategy, which will be prepared by June, will address: the establishment of the post of Dean of Discipline in schools; effective classroom management strategies; systems of rewards and sanctions; conflict resolution strategies; the rights and responsibilities of the child; the role of parents and communities; a training needs analysis and plan; and the development of a standard Home School Agreement and Code of Conduct for students, teachers and parents.
This is outlined in a Ministry Paper tabled by Minister of Education, Andrew Holness in the House of Representatives on May 20, during his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate.
Current initiatives in this area of work include: Citizenship Education to promote positive attitudes and core values, such as patriotism, respect and volunteerism. This programme is being implemented in 122 schools; Home-School Agreements, to strengthen the partnerships between home and school to improve behaviour, attendance and educational performance; mentoring and peer counselling programmes, based on disseminating the best practice in Jamaican schools to those schools where the need is greatest; and interventions designed to support parents in helping students with behaviour difficulties.
Furthermore, a programme of community meetings, supported by the Social Development Commission to build support among communities for addressing behaviour issues is being developed, while behaviour management training is being included in both initial training and continuous professional development programmes; and school safety and security guidelines are being developed for all schools.
The Ministry Paper also points to other initiatives, including: targeted interventions in schools needing support; engaging student leaders in the campaign to address behaviour issues through students’ symposia for students from 500 schools; a uniformed groups exposition; training for school leaders in the use of Safe School indicators, the Critical Incidents Management Plan and the School Safety and Security Guidelines; and collaboration with UNICEF on the use of positive disciplinary practices.
A project is also being undertaken by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to work with communities at 100 primary schools to improve school attendance; and good practice is being disseminated from a range of activities being undertaken by multi agency groups, including the Safe Schools Project and initiatives by the National Youth Service.
The interventions include the introduction of a behaviour modification course for teachers, some of whom have expressed discomfort dealing with students who display unacceptable behaviour. The MICO Care Centre and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association are involved in the development of this programme. Workshops aimed at equipping parents with skills to manage behaviour will also be conducted.
Engaging all stakeholders and ensuring that there is full commitment is fundamental to the success of the transformation process, the Paper emphasises. The programme for a sustained public education campaign and to engage education stakeholders has included a number of activities, such as: regular updates provided to the public through the media; islandwide update sessions held for more than 700 principals; meetings with staff from more than 900 schools; islandwide town hall meetings targeting parents and other community members, which are now underway; and regular nationwide briefing programmes for Ministry staff.

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