Ministry of Education works to promote Positive Behaviour Management in schools

Mrs Nicole Lynch, from UNICEF, facilitated the training sessions. (Photos courtesy Education Broadcasting Unit, Ministry of Education, Science & Technology)

As the Ministry of Education, Science & Technology continues to do its part in promoting Positive Behaviour Management (PBM) strategies in its institutions, during a professional development session today, educators in all public schools will be focussing on PBM strategies they wish to develop in their interactions with students from a whole school, class and/or individual levels.

Next week, education leaders will attend a session on alternatives to out-of-school suspensions, a release said.

Over the last few years, the Ministry of Education has been working to promote PBM practices among the various stakeholders in education, but more so, among those who interact with the students. The work gained momentum last academic year when the ministry decided that this strategy would help temper the negative interactions that were occurring in schools.

“PBM is a “firm but fair” school-wide approach to discipline. In using PBM, students are guided and corrected through the use of strategies that attend to their emotional and psychological needs. In other words, PBM promotes the use of corrective measures that cause students to build proper social skills, accept responsibility for undesirable behaviours, encourages the use of self-control and good decision-making when responding to others,” the communiqué stated.

“While PBM will not solve all our issues in education, it is valued as an approach that will promote dignity and respect among stakeholders. The Ministry of Education recognises that changing mindsets is never easy. Therefore, the Ministry will continue to build capacity among various levels of stakeholders about the use of PBM strategies.”

Last February, on the observation of PBM Day, over 1,200 caregivers in the local school system were trained in a one-day session. These stakeholders included principals, teachers, ancillary staff (parent coordinators, cleaners) and officers within the Ministry of Education.

This past July, during Educators’ Summer Institute, the Ministry sought to engage the wider public in PBM training. While the session for NGOs was poorly attended, sessions for parents, school leaders, school bus operators and security officers were at capacity. The notable difference in participants’ thinking and disposition at the beginning, when compared to the end of the sessions, signalled their appreciation for the practical application of skills gained as they experienced how PBM can work to reduce confrontations, misunderstandings, and stress.

“With the simultaneous promotion of PBM, the Ministry has sought to streamline one aspect of our practices, corporal punishment, in terms of the use of the strap. In our society, the strap is viewed as one way that can be used for correcting undesirable behaviours among students. While the Education Act advises that corporal punishment is to be utilised “where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective” (Education Act (2008) Division 5 50(3), in keeping this expectation in our minds, the Director of Education has issued specific guidelines in the use of the strap which is a requirement by law,” the release added.

“It must be noted that in maintaining the provisions within the Education Act, the Ministry of Education intends for PBM strategies to be first pursued before the application of corporal punishment. The issuance of the guidelines, therefore, is a way of regulating and regularising our practices in the use of the strap.”

The government and people, through the Ministry of Education and other organisations, are duty bound to ensure that all our children have the right to good quality education where they learn in a safe and protective environment. Such an environment should be free from punishment and other acts that are harmful and injurious and which can cause irreparable scars that go beyond the physical.    

“The Ministry, therefore, encourages all stakeholders, to include parents, students, teachers and the wider public to work towards more frequent use of PBM strategies as we endeavour to do all we can in the best interest of our students so that they can mature into responsible productive citizens,” the statement concluded.