Behaviour management is described by Kay as “policies, strategies, activities and responses aimed at supporting positive behaviour in young children and reducing negative or harmful behaviour”  . Behaviour management should not only refer to what occurs when there is unwanted behaviour, but should encompass all interaction which takes place in the learning environment  .
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It is required by law that any early years care provider must have an effective behaviour management policy which is adhered to by all staff  and that a board of governors makes a written statement of measures to promote good behaviour  . However, while policies are an important starting point in generating standards and positive attitudes, they are only effective if all staff are actively involved in developing them  . The behaviour management policy (BMP) which is in place at the nursery and primary school where I work will be analysed to judge its effectiveness.
The child’s early learning of rules in the classroom and school setting can become a framework for how they behave in life when the needs of others have to be taken into account and reflected in behaviour  , and the BMP of any school needs to reflect the values we wish to instil into the child. The most important aspect of the BMP in my workplace is that acceptable behaviour is encouraged through positive reinforcement and by staff being a positive role model to the children. It is said that the development of children’s behaviour is strongly influenced by the nature of the infant – caregiver relationship  , which suggests that if caregivers wish children to behave with respect towards others, they need to treat the children with respect themselves. Modelling good behaviour and demonstrating good practice builds respect between the child and the caregiver  which in turn teaches the child to treat others with respect. Children are given praise when they behave well in order to positively reinforce this type of behaviour.
Any BMP needs to maintain a balance between the needs of the young child to be supported and feel confident in the setting, against the need for order and good behaviour  . Too may rules and the child can become confused and anxious, and too few rules and the lack of order can lead to impaired learning  . In order to reduce this anxiety for the child it is important that they understand what the school requires from them in terms of behaviour. In this school the class teacher discusses the rules with each class and produces their own class code which is displayed on the wall for students to refer to. Learning rules can take time and needs reiteration, especially for early years students  , so the teacher repeatedly refers back to the code of conduct when the children need reminding of it.
Legal and ethical issues
It is against the law for any teacher or care provider to use, or threaten to use, corporal punishment on a child  and the provider must also ensure that any other person in regular contact with the child adheres to these rules  . However, physical intervention may be used in exceptional circumstances when it is necessary in order to prevent the child from injuring themselves or another, to prevent serious damage to property, or in any other circumstance which may be regarded as exceptional  . These laws are laid down in the BMP of my workplace and explained to parents through the initial information given about the school. If physical intervention is ever used, it is recorded in the child’s file and brought to the attention of the parent or guardian, in accordance with the statutory guidance given  .
Effectiveness of practice
The BMP in my workplace states that the issue of discipline is the responsibility of all teachers at all times, and teachers and other staff members are given information and training about how to treat the children. Teachers are encouraged to find the cause of bad behaviour rather than reacting to incidents of indiscipline. This is an important aspect of any BMP as it has been shown that issues involving the child’s personal life coming from areas such as the child’s parents, family, social or economic environment can lead to behaviour problems  and ignoring these roots of bad behaviour is unlikely to help the child in the long-term. In fact, up to 50% of preschool children with behaviour problems will continue to experience problems in the school years, unless these behaviour problems are addressed  , showing the importance of dealing with the roots of behaviour problems rather than solely disciplining the actions. Teachers are encouraged to discuss the rules and any disobedience of them with the students, and any knowledge discovered is to be passed on to the senior teacher or principal so that external problems can be identified.
Team involvement and confidence
It is the responsibility of the principal of the school to review and evaluate the BMP regularly and to report its effectiveness to the board of governors. However, for any BMP to work effectively, it needs to be endorsed not only by the principal, but also by the senior staff in their dealing with the staff who report to them and encouraging open communication about the policy  . This is the case in my workplace, where the senior staff are all positive about the policy and encourage teachers to discuss any problems or issues they have had with students in order to evaluate how they dealt with the problem. This is especially true with newly qualified and less experienced teachers.
Partnerships with parents and other external agencies
In my workplace parents are informed of any recurring behaviour management incidents and often the parent’s opinion is sought about possible reasons for the behaviour and future strategies for dealing with the behaviour are discussed.
Whilst this policy goes some way to involving the parents in the behaviour management of their child, it can be seen that the parents become involved only when an incident has occurred, and sometimes only when several incidents have occurred. It has been shown that a higher level of involvement between parents and the care setting or school can not only lead to less behaviour problems, but also increased achievement, better attendance and an improved attitude towards learning  , and this is an aspect which I would suggest could be improved in this setting.
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Parents have identified a number of factors which they consider important in early years practitioners, including being able to access the practitioner in order to discuss any concerns, that feedback be given on the child’s progress and that there exists a positive attitude towards parents  , showing that many parents wish to be more involved with the care their child is receiving. Ways of involving parents include discussing their role at the first meeting and ensuring that parents feel welcome in the setting, asking parents to come to the setting to help and share ideas  , helping with excursions and making resources and continuing learning in the house which has been started within the setting  .
This partnership may lead to some initial unease on both sides, perhaps due to parents’ lack of confidence in their abilities and practitioners’ feeling over-challenged by dealing with parents’ expectations  , but the results would hopefully improve child behaviour in the long-term.
External agencies are dealt with through the class teacher in conjunction with the SENCO or principal as required and these partnerships seem to work well.
The Behaviour Management Policy of any school or child care setting is an essential document which lays down the ideals of the school and which, when applied effectively, can create “an environment where everyone’s rights and responsibilities are addressed”  . The BMP in my workplace seems to create such an environment, where the children and teachers treat each other with mutual trust and respect. While bad behaviour is sanctioned, the causes of the behaviour are also discussed in order to attempt to prevent such behaviour occurring again. I would suggest that there is a deficiency in the amount of parental involvement; however, in general, the BMP seems to be an effective one. It is said that to promote good behaviour in children “discussions about values, what is expected and what is unacceptable, are part of the day-to-day learning”  , and I think this is the case in my workplace.
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