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  • State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Senator Noel Monteith has cautioned against the hasty suspension and expulsion of students with chronic maladaptive behaviors from the school system, as in the future, this could present serious problems for these students and the society as a whole.
  • He was speaking on Thursday (March 27) at the opening of the Advisory Committee Retreat of the Ministry's Guidance and Counselling Unit's Programme For Alternative Student Support (PASS), at Medallion Hall Hotel.
  • Guidance and counselling has a really major role to play in where we go for the future,

State Minister in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Senator Noel Monteith has cautioned against the hasty suspension and expulsion of students with chronic maladaptive behaviors from the school system, as in the future, this could present serious problems for these students and the society as a whole. He was speaking on Thursday (March 27) at the opening of the Advisory Committee Retreat of the Ministry’s Guidance and Counselling Unit’s Programme For Alternative Student Support (PASS), at Medallion Hall Hotel. “Guidance and counselling has a really major role to play in where we go for the future,” the State Minister said, noting that students who were seen as “troublesome” often exhausted the resources of the school and the patience of the administrators, as well as the administrative staff and their peers.

He said that this often led to these students being expelled, an action which could prove detrimental to their future development. Senator Monteith said it was this practice, which could be regarded as “socially wasteful”, that had led to the Ministry’s implementation of the PASS.He pointed out that since its inception two years ago the programme had sought to include the total school community including staff, students, parents and the board of management, in the process of, “developing a more objective approach to dealing with that group of students who challenge the system”. The programme has also identified and elicited the support of community-based expertise, which is now available to provide appropriate responses to the needs of troubled students. The PASS, which involves schools from the six regions across the island, includes high and junior high schools, and was developed in response to the incidence of chronic behavioral problems among students at the secondary level.

It was designed to reduce the number of preventable obstacles, and contribute to facilitating students through the education system toward high school completion and educational achievement. The PASS primarily focuses on students who present behaviors that require intense treatment over extended periods and who might need expertise and other resources not immediately available within the schools.

The programme seeks to provide an alternative to extended suspensions or expulsions, where feasible, provide school administrators with options for dealing with cases of severe behavior problems, and assist parents to identify opportunities to improve their ability to facilitate the development of their children and support their education. The process trips into action when a student has been identified as having severe behavior problems by the classroom or teachers. The teacher has the responsibility to seek to identify the problem and come up with appropriate solutions. In cases where the problem is beyond the teachers’ competence or would require extended therapy, the teacher can refer the student to more senior authority, ranging from grade supervisor, head of department, Dean of Discipline, Guidance Counselor, to the principal.

When the student is eventually referred to the school panel, that body makes a decision based upon the administration and subsequent interpretation of the rating scale, which ranges from mild to severe.
Based on the classification of the behaviors displayed by the student, referral options may then be selected from, special in-school intervention: a combination of in and out of school referral including referral to a specialist while continuing the regular school programme; partial withdrawal from the regular school programme; partial deployment to an alternative programme and deployment to a special facility.

Following consultations, a student may be referred to other types of treatment most appropriate for their case and these referrals may include school counselor, a therapist or other agencies. Referrals outside of the school are based on the decision of the school panel, and with parental consent. Senator Monteith said that although there were still some “knotty” areas to be resolved, it was heartening to know that work had started on the issue and that the level of support by the various stakeholders had been encouraging.