Precision Schooling and the Covid Excuse

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Precision Schooling and the Covid Excuse

The challenges facing the education system are well known by those who work in the sector and parents of the 10 million children currently relying upon UK schools. One of the main challenges is the rise in unacceptable behaviour in classrooms, recently summarised in this TES post – School Behaviour – Is it really getting worse?

Covid-19 is often cited as a primary reason for this behaviour and the impact it continues to have on social and emotional development. Whilst probably true, it’s lazy thinking to stop at the cause and not continue to a solution. As children’s brains can develop and recover quickly, we shouldn’t continue to blame the pandemic and suffer from the consequences. Whether schools have the required funding to do this recovery work is a better conversation and one that I will return to later.

In the same vein, secondary school leaders know that they will soon be facing a spike in behavioural incidents as their new Year 7 cohort adapts to their new environment in September. We know this challenge is looming so what can be done to address it? Maybe more importantly, are schools adequately resourced for what is needed?

Any high performing business will tell you that the induction and onboarding processes for new hires is vital to instil the desired organisational culture. The same is true for school culture and onboarding Year 7 pupils. The consequence of a poor first term for 11- and 12-year-olds is endured by schools and pupils for the following 5 to 7 years.

The Pareto Principle is prevalent in many aspects of life and schooling is no different. 80% of issues are caused by 20% of pupils. Fortunately, the pupils that make up this 20% cohort are a known quantity. They may not be on the radar of their secondary school staff yet, but they are certainly known to their primary school colleagues.

Using this intelligence, we should focus the already limited resources available for this cohort on this stage of their educational journey.

Precision Policing is when forces use crime data to identify the highest harm individuals. Precision Schooling is a concept that we should establish to provide solutions rather than discuss problems. Failing to get this right with children in schools will lead to police forces having more harmful adults to identify in

So, what should we be doing with this education data?

One solution that the DfE invested in (2021) was to organise summer schools for this cohort to help them prepare for the transfer to secondary school. Now that DfE funds have moved downstream to Behaviour Hubs, schools are investing their own budgets to provide these programmes during the summer holiday. I believe that this is a very shrewd investment and one that may deliver a 10x return within 12 months and I hope that my education colleagues will help to substantiate the following numbers.


  • £10,000 Approximate cost of a two-week summer school for 30 pupils


  • £10,000 Cost of support staff
  • £10,000 Supply cost to cover for teacher health-related absences
  • £10,000 Impact of lost learning time in classrooms due to challenging behaviour
  • £10,000 Impact on workforce performance due to low morale
  • £10,000 Recruiting new teachers due to behaviour related resignations
  • £10,000 Time spent on SEND diagnoses
  • £10,000 Time spent liaising with parents/carers
  • £10,000 Time spent focussing on attendance matters
  • £10,000 Funding for managed moves
  • £10,000 Funding for alternative provision places

£100,000 Total 10x saving over 12 months

It will require input from research colleagues to conduct a far more rigours cost benefit analysis over the 5 to 7 year school experience of this cohort. Hopefully, they will also analyse the wider financial impact of this £10,000 investment in terms of cost savings across health, justice, employability and other public service delivery areas.

Critical thinking, problem solving and citizenship are skills that schools are tasked with developing within our next generation. Moving beyond reasons and adopting the concept of Precision Schooling are possible ways for them to model this, whilst also demonstrating financial literacy.