Behaviour Expectations Raised Significantly in all Schools


Although the title says ‘all’ I really only want to claim that this blog is about secondary schools. If you want to think about how this may extend to primary then feel free.

Let’s imagine that the government’ set a ‘rule’, a strong expectation’ that children would be in serious trouble in school if their behaviour disrupted the learning of others. Just imagine that had happened. What might the effects be?

Short term it could well lead to more exclusions – both fixed term and permanent as well as what in the school I was headteacher of we called internal exclusions. Actually, that is very much the situation when I took over the leadership of the school in North London that I loved. There were more exclusions. We set us a system where a ‘time-out’ room was staffed by a non-teacher full time.

We monitored time-out and other exclusions data to identify where exclusions were happening and why. We identified interventions and we worked with children in all sorts of different ways. My office often was a place where you would find some of the most difficult cases. I would spend a great deal of time discussing the child’s behaviour and how they might change as well as being very clear about the end result of the continuing misbehaviour. Children knew I was serious. Assemblies I gave were simply summarised by the theme – sit down and listen to your teachers. You do not have the fight to misbehave in class and you may not disrupt the learning of others. The rest of the staff who led assemblies were far more creative and covered all the aspects of school life you might imagine.

It took some time but certainly, within a year the school was a very different place. Lesson disruption was minimal and teachers had time to teach. It was a very quiet place and many visitors used to ask if we had children in the school. You could visit any lesson at any time and you would be pleased with what you saw.

We did not have to ‘train’ staff how to manage behaviour. They knew the expectations. Amazingly, without expensive training by consultants who claim, through their training, that individual teachers were to blame for misbehaviour, teachers could organise productive classrooms

Children were not cowed, exactly the opposite.

Parents commented on how their child now enjoyed school and felt safe at all times.

If you use the argument that exclusions will increase when a school gets a proper hold on its behaviour as a reason to rail against such a system then you are taking a short term view. Take the long term view.

Imagine that this was a national system. We might find that parents worked harder on teaching their child the expectations of behaviour mattered. We might find that teachers worked harder knowing that misbehaviour would be dealt with. We might get what is called system change, for the good of all children.

Next: A list, probably, of the way to achieve the above…

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