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Caerphilly Education South Wales

Yoga classes improving pupil behaviour after exclusion rates deemed ‘too high’

Caerphilly County Borough Council offices (Pic: LDRS)

SCHOOL staff are using yoga classes to improve pupils’ behaviour in Caerphilly, where the number of exclusions is “too high”.

Yoga is one of several “wellbeing interventions” the council is promoting to deal with “factors that might underpin pupil behaviour” – and there are early signs the scheme is proving a hit.

The majority of children who took part rated the sessions as enjoyable and helpful, and staff believe the interventions, along with training, have made them “more aware of how and when to deal with children’s behaviour more appropriately”.

Pupil exclusions in Caerphilly have risen annually since the Covid-19 pandemic, with schools reporting a “deterioration in pupil behaviour”, according to a council report.

Staff are witnessing “increased levels of general and persistent disruptive behaviour, reduced engagement, increased anxiety, and reduced resilience” among children, and the council admitted schools are finding these issues “hard to regulate”, leading to more exclusions.

Dr Kyla Honey, the council’s principal educational psychologist, told Caerphilly’s education committee on Tuesday June 4 the area’s exclusion rates “don’t compare favourably at the moment” with other Welsh local authorities.

The number of pupils excluded from Caerphilly schools stood at 14 in 2020/21, then rose to 36 and then 40 in subsequent years.

But there is hope the council’s range of “wellbeing interventions” – which also include Lego therapy and “Draw and Talk” groups – is having a positive effect.

Some schools have described the initiatives as having a “great” impact and helping pupils “understand where their anxiety comes from”.

Current data shows 26 exclusions across Caerphilly so far this academic year, which the council said suggests a “levelling-out” compared with the recent post-pandemic trend.

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Two school clusters have also taken part in a pilot scheme of the Welsh Restorative Approaches Partnership, leading to fewer pupil visits to internal exclusion rooms, as well as fewer fixed-term and permanent exclusions.

The council’s chief education officer, Keri Cole, told the committee meeting exclusions were a “last resort” for schools, and that recent spikes in pupil exclusions were a “national issue”.