“Research evidence suggests that pupils’ behaviour can be influenced by all the major features and processes of a school. These include the quality of its leadership, classroom management, behaviour policy, curriculum, pastoral care, buildings and physical environment, organisation and timetable and relationships with parents. ” (Elton Report, DES, 1989) The secondary education issue I have chosen to focus on for this presentation is Whole School Behaviour Policies and how such policies can influence the teaching and learning experiences in school through the use of sanctions and rewards.
I chose this area to focus on because, as a student teacher on a teaching placement, behaviour in schools is one of my biggest concerns and also because, according to the Elton Report and other literature I have read, it appears that this is a major area of concern throughout secondary schools in the UK. The Elton Report, a national enquiry into discipline in schools, was established by the Secretary of State for Education and Science in March 1989 in response to concern about the problems facing the teaching profession.
Their task was to “recommend action to the government, local authorities, voluntary bodies, governors, headteachers, teachers and parents aimed at improving behaviour in schools for effective teaching and learning to take place”. (Elton Report, DES, 1989) The Elton Report has formed the basis of much of the current legislation on school behavioural policies and offers guidance for schools in drawing up their own behaviour policies.
The main findings and recommendations of the Elton Report can be summarised in the following points (Teachernet, 2008): •School’s should adopt a ‘whole-school’ approach to their behaviour policies and the teachers’ approach should be one of consistency and fairness •Schools should have a clear vision for managing behaviour through establishing clear rules and boundaries, with emphasis on the positive. •All must adhere to policy principles, and teachers should model behaviour and interactions in a positive and supportive way. Boundaries should be made clear and sanctions should be in place, but the emphasis is on praise and rewarding good behaviour. •All staff should recognise that the quality of teaching and learning has a significant impact on pupils’ behaviour “A school’s central purpose is that children should learn. Good behaviour makes effective teaching and learning possible. Bad behaviour disrupts these processes. ” (Elton Report, DES, 1989) In September 2003, the government’s Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) launched the Behaviour and Attendance strand of the Key Stage 3 Strategy.
This programme aims to provide advice, support and training for all secondary schools in England to promote positive behaviour and tackle issues of low-level disruption. It recommends that senior leadership teams in schools will carry out audits of behaviour and attendance and, from these, will establish priorities for the whole school. They will then plan actions to further improve their policy and practice and will draw up training plans for their staff. (Behaviour4learning, 2008) At my year one placement school I witnessed these recommendations put into practise in the classroom through the implementation of the school’s Behaviour Policy.
The placement school is a mixed comprehensive school in the London borough of Tower Hamlets. The head teacher’s perception of the school’s catchment area is that it is a predominantly working class area of London with high levels of poverty and unemployment. According to the school’s latest Ofsted inspection report the number of pupils who are registered SEN (Special Educational Needs) is above the national average. Although not all special needs are connected to behaviour, it is largely acknowledged that if a child finds learning very difficult it is possible that incidents of poor behaviour can occur. Cowley, 2006) The school has a behaviour policy in place and, by adhering to it, aims to promote a “positive learning and teaching community for staff and pupils. ” (Swanlea School Behaviour Policy) The main aims, as summarised in the policy, are: •To ensure that behaviour is a whole school responsibility •To ensure that rewards and sanctions procedures are applied fairly and consistently •To foster compassion and tolerance, celebrate diversity and develop a sense of citizenship and care for the whole community and environment •To enable all pupils, irrespective of race, class, gender and ability, to achieve their personal best. Swanlea School Behaviour Policy) The policy also sets out the rights of staff and students, which are summarised as: •Every student has the right to learn at his or her optimum rate, without being hindered by others •Every student has the right to live each day in school without fear. Bullying, threatening behaviour, racial or sexual harassment and damage to property will not be tolerated. •All staff have the right to go about their work without being hampered (Swanlea School Behaviour Policy)
This reflects a clear alignment with research by Cowley (2006) who states that: “Different types of school have very different and specific behavioural problems, and ideally the whole-school behaviour policy should be linked closely to the particular difficulties your school faces. ” (Cowley, 2006, p172) The school’s behaviour policy is clearly in place to create a positive environment for pupils but it is also there for the benefit of teachers and staff to create a positive working environment and enable the teacher to effectively teach without disturbance. It’s important to keep in mind that the reason we need to manage behaviour at all is so that we can actually get on with teaching. ” (Cowley, 2006, p96) The policy was established by the head teacher, deputies and heads of department together with the behaviour support team. It is managed by the deputy head teacher and is reviewed each term, through consultations with heads of department and the behaviour support team, at designated ‘Behavioural Policy Review’ meetings.
These meeting allow for changes to be made if the policy appears to be ineffective and, for example, if incidents of bad behaviour have increased. In order to check the effectiveness of the policy, the deputy head teacher analyses data, in the form of exclusion rates, details of incidents of bullying and racist abuse and the use of sanctions and rewards. All of the school’s staff, including teachers and support staff, are responsible for ensuring that the behaviour policy and procedures are followed and applied.
This ‘guidance framework’ has made it easier for staff to respond to incidents of bad and good behaviour consistently and fairly and for all students to be made aware of the policy. As recommended in research by Rogers (2006): “When schools have a common framework for classroom behaviour agreements, each successive year group becomes increasingly conscious of ‘the way we do things here’. “This enables some sense of common understandings and expectations about appropriate and fair behaviour and also some reasonable consistency in behaviour management by adults across the school. (Rogers, 2006, p46) The behaviour policy states that all staff are expected to model the high standards of behaviour and punctuality expected of pupils. Form tutors are also expected to support and encourage individual pupils through praise, positive reinforcement and contact with parents. The policy also advises that form teachers are directly involved with low level behaviour issues, such as addressing school uniform issues. The school believes that maintaining a level of consistency across all staff and department, with regards to the behaviour policy, ensures that all pupils are aware of its contents.
This is in line with Rogers’ (1995) and Cowley’s (2006) findings, who say that a whole-school behaviour policy is effective when it:- •Is created in conjunction with all the staff •undergoes a continuous process of change •is consistently applied All pupils at the school carry a travelling diary to lessons in which homework and behavioural issues such as lateness are monitored and recorded. The ‘travelling diary’ contains a summary of the school’s behaviour policy and expectations – further ensuring that the students are aware of the policy contents.
Assemblies on the theme of respect and behaviour are also delivered to the pupils on a regular basis. “The behaviour policy is well constructed and understood by most students and applied evenly by all staff. ” (Ofsted, 2007) The school has in place a system of sanctions and rewards to deal with negative and positive behaviour respectively. Depending on the severity of the negative behaviour in the school, the sanctions range from a verbal ‘telling off’ to the child being placed in the school’s isolation unit. Sanctions are there to offer corrective measures to indicate to the perpetrator that the displayed behaviour is not acceptable and provide and opportunity for the individual to redeem him/her self. ” (Swanlea School Behaviour Policy) The behaviour policy states that the school aims to support a positive learning environment for students through the use of rewards for good behaviour. This ranges from praise from the teacher to formal awards and prizes at the school’s annual awards ceremony and during assemblies. This in reflected by Cowley (2006) who says: Using rewards is one of the most effective ways of getting better behaviour…. This will help you maintain a positive focus and atmosphere in your classroom. ” (Cowley, 2006, p81) However, it is challenged by Kyriacou (1998) who argues that it is ‘effective teaching’ not rewards that create better behaviour. “The most important point to bear in mind in considering discipline is that creating the necessary order is more to do with the skills involved in effective teaching in general than it is to do with how you deal with pupil misbehaviour itself. (Kyriacou, 1998, p79) To sum up, from classroom observations at my placement school I frequently observed incidents of students’ bad behaviour and how these incidents were dealt with in the design and technology department. It was apparent that the design and technology department, like the rest of the school, is closely following the guidance in the behaviour policy and is very efficient at dealing with bad behaviour. This appears to have a positive impact on the school in that it creates a safe environment for the pupils.
However, on a daily basis I observed poorly behaved children being given break time detentions and several children receiving the ‘ultimate sanction’ of the isolation unit. While this appears to be effective in that it creates an ordered classroom environment for teaching and learning to take place, I frequently observed the well behaved pupils going un-noticed in the school’s efforts to stamp out bad behaviour. .“We can get trapped into giving lots of rewards to our tricky students, to keep them onside and get them to co-operate.
But don’t overlook those children who work hard all the time – they deserve to receive recognition for their efforts as well. ” (Cowley, 2006, p83) This suggests that their behaviour policy is not working as effectively as it could and that a solution could be to have, embedded in the behaviour policy, a system of rewarding good behaviour and recognising hard working children, as well as responding to the students’ bad behaviour. References •Cowley, S. 2006), Getting the Buggers to Behave, Continuum International Publishing Group, London •HMSO (1989) The Elton Report: Enquiry into Discipline in Schools, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London •Kyriacou, C (1998), Essential Teaching Skills, Nelson Thornes Ltd, Cheltenham •Laslett, R and Smith, C (1984) Effective Classroom Management, Croom Helm Ltd, Kent •Rogers, B (2006) Classroom Behaviour: A Practical Guide for Effective Teaching, Behaviour Management and Colleague Support, Paul Chapman Publishing, London •Rogers, B (1995) Behaviour Management: A Whole-School Approach, Scholastic Australia, Gosford •Swanlea School Behaviour Policy, London Web references •Behaviour4Learning. Accessed 20. 11. 08 www. behaviour4learning. ac. uk •Department for Children, Schools and Families. Accessed 20. 11. 08; www. standards. dfes. gov. uk •Office for Standards in Education. Accessed 20. 11. 08 www. ofsted. gov. uk •Teachernet. Accessed 20. 11. 08 www. teachernet. gov. uk