B4L is a concept that has been developed through a review of effective behaviour management strategies. It has been identified that B4L is a result of a multitude of influences and not merely the desire of a learner to misbehave and unwillingness to learn. B4L identifies the link between students social conduct and behaviour and the way in which they learn. The study will focus on policies and practice to promote B4L. Research has identified the importance of motivating learners by improving teaching, making learning enjoyable in reducing behavioural issues and promoting B4L. Schools with good or outstanding teaching almost always have outstanding behaviour. The most successful schools set expectations of staff to deliver lessons that were varied and interesting, this has proven to increase attendance as well as reduce the incidence of unacceptable behaviour in lessons. The study identifies the importance of consistency within the application of policies, it also identifies a number of areas for improvement to promote B4L including the rewards system and use of detentions. Further research identifies the link between outstanding teaching & B4L. Every opportunity to reward & praise students should be taken, through verbal communication and point allocation. It is important that any policy in place is agreed and embraced by all staff to ensure that it is delivered consistently.
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The need to manage behaviour has long been an issue within schools. With the push on raising attainment, the development of Special Educational Needs (SEN) provision and the increase in policy, to be inclusive of all learners irrespective of their academic level or their social behaviour. It has been identified that 20% of all SEN learners have Social Emotional Behavioural Difficulties (SEBD) (Department for Children, Schools & Families, (DCSF) 2009).
The schools policy sets out high expectations of students, “We expect students to reflect this in their appearance, attitudes and behaviour. We know we are moulding the citizens of the future and will encourage them to care for one another, be open, fair, honest and just. We want them to have a sense of pride in being part of our school community.” (Appendix 1).
Further to this the schools vision is to raise achievement by developing a culture where ‘learning is at the heart of the school community’. To achieve this vision the school identifies whole school priorities for 2010/2011 including improving behaviour and attendance. It also stated that the school will focus on incorporating Social, Emotional aspects of Learning (SEAL) practice in the classroom, which has been identified as an important key in developing learner’s emotional intelligence (Goleman, 1996 cited in Capel, Leask & Turner 2009, p.141) providing learners with the skill set to monitor and improve their behaviour independently.
It was clearly identified in the School Development Plan that Behaviour for learning (B4L) is a targeted area for improvement (Appendix 1). This was reinforced as a high priority area during staff meetings and subsequent correspondence from the Head Teacher. Issues that arose were the use of mobile phones & MP3 players within lessons, consistency in the application of sanctions and use of rewards (Appendix 2). It is interesting to note that these both encompass the teacher and the learner identifying the diversity of the issues. It would be interesting to further enquire as to whether the use of mobile phones within lessons is a B4L issue or a sign of disengagement due to other factors. Understandably there is a close link between the quality of learning, teaching and behaviour, and therefore raises the question ‘Can behaviour be improved through improving the quality of learning & teaching?’ The school clearly identifies that there is a need to reinforce their policies on B4L. Through initial observation around the school it was interesting to note the overall behaviour of students occurring both in and out of lessons, there was frequent use of inappropriate language, fighting and a significant littering problem. During lessons students often refused to do any work, persistently had their mobile phones out and there was significant level of unrequired talking during lessons. This posed the question ‘Is the school being pro-active in managing behaviour for learning or re-active to behaviour that has now reached undesirable levels?’
Behaviour management is often flagged as an area that Initial Teacher Education (ITE) students feel they would benefit from having greater support in when entering the profession of teaching (Buell et al., 1999 cited in Powell, S, Tod, J, 2004). This has been met by the expectations set by the Teacher Training Agency (TTA) via the Qualifying to Teach, the new standards and requirements for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) (TTA, 2002).
B4L is a concept that has been developed through a review of effective behaviour management strategies. It has been identified that B4L is a result of multitude of influences and not merely the desire of a learner to misbehave and unwillingness to learn. It is important to identify the theoretical principles behind the way in which learners manifest themselves in terms of behaviour (Powell, S, Tod, J, 2004). B4L identifies the link between students social conduct and behaviour and the way in which they learn.
Recent national policy has moved away from a punitive system where students were punished for doing something wrong, known as being ‘reactive’, and are now working towards understanding what causes learners’ to be off task and display undesirable behaviour, ‘pro-active’, as supported by Weare (2004 cited in in Capel, Leask & Turner, 2009, p.141) who suggested that a punitive approach tends to worsen or create the problems it is intended to eradicate. Punishment alienates children from their teacher and does nothing to build up trust which is the foundation of relationships. National policy now promotes the inclusion of a greater diversity of learners in schools irrespective of level of achievement or social behaviour (Department for Education & Employment (DfEE), 1999). It is important for schools to recognise this and develop strategies to promote B4L as over 20% of SEN provisions are learners with SEBD (DCSF, 2009). SEBD learners by nature can display undesirable behaviour unless managed in a positive way, so would it not be deemed unacceptable from an education professional’s view for a learner predisposed to display poor behaviour, to fall victim to punitive actions? It is therefore important for schools to have a well-structured B4L policy that coincides with the SEN policy.
In order for schools to develop an effective policy they must be able to identify the complexity of factors that influence behaviour and clearly identify what is considered an unacceptable level. Do schools have a standard response to unacceptable behaviour with clear sanctions regardless of the severity of the behaviour witnessed? The Elton report (1989) defines misbehaviour as such that raises concern to teachers. This clearly has limitations as it is dependent on the individual teacher and within the context of which it occurs. This can cause numerous issues within schools as inconsistencies can arise due to teachers individual views of unacceptable behaviour, as reported by Ofsted (2006). Ofsted’s (2008) report identified the importance of all staff sharing clear expectations of pupils. The report showed that the most successful schools had strong senior leaders that supported staff through training. They also had clear behaviour policies instated that are implemented consistently by all staff, which clearly proves that by providing clear instruction of policies to staff and the consistent application of them is fundamental in controlling negative behaviour in schools.
Disruptive, challenging, anti-social, emotional & behavioural difficulties (EBD) are widely used terms by teachers to describe a student’s behaviour (Capel, Leask & Turner, 2009,). These however do not clearly identify the actual behaviour and the causation. It is important for teachers to not merely state that a child is being disruptive but record what they were doing to be disruptive and why. In order to be proactive rather than reactive staff need to have dialogue with the offender to discuss what happened, who was affected and acknowledge the learner’s views. This falls within the restorative approach and is essential in developing a learner’s emotional intelligence. Far too often learners are punished and do not know exactly what they were doing wrong or resolve the underlying issue.
It is difficult to define unacceptable behaviour on a National & whole school level due to the perceptions, tolerance threshold, and experience & management approach of teachers. These inconsistencies can lead to confusion amongst pupils and lead to teachers being pin pointed as being strict and inconsistent in comparison with the rest of the school, which can cause tension and ultimately a breakdown in student-teacher relationships (Weare, 2004 cited in Capel, Leask & Turner, 2009, pg141). It is therefore essential that schools adopt a well-structured monitoring and reporting policy which relates to the observable actions of pupils. The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) (2001 cited in Capel, Leask & Turner 2009, pg145) generated a list of 15 behaviours by which pupils emotional and behavioural actions could be defined, these were sub-divided into three categories learning , conduct and emotional. Ofsted (2008) identified persistent low-level disruption as the most common form of poor behaviour.
There is an abundance of research on behavioural management strategies. However behaviour still remains an area of concern for schools. It was also raised as an issue for newly qualified teachers (NQT) who expressed that they would benefit from additional support in behaviour management in preparation for teaching (Powell, S, Tod, J, 2004). In response the Behaviour Management Review Group (2004) conducted a review into the theoretical explanations of behaviour, in order to enhance teachers’ understanding of the causal factor of behaviour. By providing teachers with a theoretical framework to model their management strategies around, Initial Teacher Trainees (ITT) will not feel the need to continually find new strategies to cope with behavioural issues. The review highlighted the complexity of learning behaviour and the contributing factors of societal, family and school environments that influence pupil behaviour basing their model on Bronfenbrenner’s ‘Ecological Systems Theory’ (1989 cited in Powell, S, Tod, J, 2004) (Appendix 3) . This obviously highlights a barrier to addressing B4L, as teachers do not have input during all environments. It is therefore important that schools need to develop and maintain relationships with students, parents & carers, which was identified in the Ofsted Report (2009), as still needing some improvement. The conceptual framework used within the review by the Behaviour Management Review Group (2004) identified the importance of relationships in shaping learning behaviour. The model identified the relationship of a learner’s with others, the curriculum and themselves. When observing a learner’s behaviour a teacher must consider if the curriculum is relevant in the learner’s eyes, does the learner feel they can achieve what is asked of them? Does the learner have a strong relationship with their teacher and peers? This is supported by Evans et al, (2003 cited in Capel, Leask & Turner, 2009) who suggested the key to promoting a positive learning environment by improving learning behaviour is characterised through the development of positive relationships and developing an appropriate emotional climate in the classroom. It is in all teachers interest to take responsibility for B4L focusing on developing positive relationships with learner’s.
Several reports have identified the importance of motivating learners by improving teaching, making learning enjoyable in reducing behavioural issues and promoting B4L. Schools with good or outstanding teaching almost always had outstanding behaviour. The most successful schools set expectations of staff to deliver lessons that were varied and interesting, this has proven to increase attendance as well as reduce the incidence of unacceptable behaviour in lessons. Schools reported improved attitudes towards learning and an improvement in monitoring student’s achievement (Ofsted, 2001; 2006; 2008). Ofsted (2008) continued to acknowledge the need to improve behaviour as 28% of secondary schools displayed no better than satisfactory behaviour.
Other contributing factors to improve B4L included consistent acknowledgement of achievement and use of a reward system to promote positive behaviour. Often schools do not provide consistent administration of reward systems and it has been seen that often teachers cease to use reward systems past Yr7 and very rarely into Key stage 4 (Ofsted, 2001, pg26). This was identified within the study school during a staff meeting where senior management had gathered information during student council raising the issue that older students still liked receiving reward points, where it had been presumed by staff that it was no longer effective.
The study will focus on the schools current policy on behaviour for learning and how this is implemented on a daily basis. Through a review of the schools current policy and staff views the study will hope to identify areas for improving B4L providing recommendations for the future. The study will focus on current school issues including inappropriate use of mobile phones, reward system and sanctions.
The research will aim to identify the current issues within the school surrounding B4L & schools current strategies to improve B4L. To gain an in-depth review of the schools current B4L issue the study will focus on the implementation of B4L strategies through direct informal observation. This allows a high degree of validity by monitoring the focus in its setting of actual use. The limitation of this is that actual situations may be skewed due to the presence of the observer and it is therefore important for observation to occur over a period of time so those being observed become less aware of the observers presence. To promote this the observer should not become involved or drawn into the social interactions with those being observed. A significant limitation to observation is that the observer will have to interpret what they witness without confirmation from the subject. This limitation will be reduced by following observations with unstructured interviews as used by Frederikson, et al (1996) which allows subjects to express a more detailed insight into the topic. Data across the school will be analysed to identify any trends in negative behaviour. A view of the whole school approach towards behaviour will be obtained through analysis of the current policies along with statistical data from the Schools Information Management System (SIMS). Further to this, interviews will be arranged with lead staff on B4L.
Over a period of a week a number of lessons were observed and followed up with informal discussions with the teacher. The observations were focused on identifying the levels of engagement of students, any behavioural issues and how they are addressed by the teacher and level of teaching & learning. Through further discussions post-lesson, staff members were asked on their views of the lesson and how they feel the student’s level of behaviour impacted on the learning. In addition to this the reward policy was reviewed and the application of it was observed in lessons. The main purpose of this study was to review existing policies on improving B4L including behavioural and reward policies and the consistency of their application.
The schools Ofsted report (2009) identified that students’ behaviour was not always as good as it should be with instances of boisterous behaviour. Inspectors found behaviour to be satisfactory overall, but variable. The report stated ‘too many lessons lack challenge and do not take sufficient account of students’ individual capabilities or encourage independent learning’. They also noted that the quality of marking and feedback was varied across the school. The report went on to suggest that teaching was not challenging on a whole school stage & did not provide students with the opportunity to make progress, develop confidence and develop the skills to work independently. This could contribute to poor B4L as the lack of development of learner’s emotional intelligence can restrict learners from being able to monitor and improve their behaviour (Goleman, 1996 cited in Capel, Leask & Turner 2009, p.141). The report continues to identify that teaching can be too directed and does not take into account the differing abilities of learners; the school needs to ensure that lesson activities consistently challenge students of all ability groups to make better progress and develop their independent learning skills, especially at Key Stage 4.
In the first instance the school has a well-structured behavioural policy with the aims of providing a caring and secure environment by promoting positive behaviour, regular attendance, self-discipline and respect for others. It clearly states that consistent, yet flexible implementation of the policy by all is essential. This goes on to refer to special considerations for vulnerable groups such as SEN. This initially raises the issue of how flexible the policy should be whilst trying to remain consistent.
As identified by the school as a high priority target, the policy states mobile phones & MP3’s can be confiscated when it disturbs the learning environment. The policy goes on to set out five expectations that should be maintained at all times (Appendix 4, Pg2). The policy has a clearly structured sanction system and identifies methods for recording behavioural infractions through SIMS. Through analysis of data on SIMS it is clear that teaching staff are thorough at recording behavioural incidents that occur during lesson with details of the incident. Some teachers used the data as a motivational tool in tutor time by sharing positive and negative points with students and setting them goals for the week. This was particularly effective with year 7 students who were very keen to see how many points they currently had.
The school sanction policy followed a ladder system which identified different sanctions for the level of behaviour displayed (Appendix 4, pg11). It was interesting to note that the column labelled ‘examples of behaviour’ use general descriptive terms such as disruptive behaviour, persistent disruptive behaviour, disrupting the learners of other. It also groups various types of behaviour which a student may display. Many of these behaviours were identified by the QCA (2001) as either being learning behaviours, conduct behaviours and emotional behaviours and therefore individual and definitive in the way they should be met. All of the responses to behavioural issues bar the first incident result in a punitive response primarily of detentions at different levels. It is not until the fourth level when students are displaying persistent disruptive behaviour, three negative SIMS in a week in the same lesson and failing to attend a detention that meetings are set in place with the students and senior staff to discuss expectations. During observation of lessons the majority of incidences occur within the first three steps of the sanction flowchart which were often dealt with accordingly. It was however noted that not all staff made contact with parents as suggested when placing students in break & lunch time detentions. On most occasion students are asked to stop what they are doing if disruptive to the lesson or asked to sit out as not to hinder the other students learning. The teacher then resolved the issue with the learner, by setting clear expectations of the student, then allowing them to join back in the lesson. If continual disruptive behaviour occurred, staff then proceeds to give the student’s a break time or lunch time detention depending on the severity of the behaviour. It was noted that the relationship between offences and consequences were inconsistent in application by different staff and dependent upon the individual learners. Often students who were known to staff to be persistently difficult tended to be flagged up quicker for their behaviour compared to others. This often led to some students feeling that they were victimised by staff.
During detentions in the Physical Education department students were asked to sit in an allocated area for the duration. Often this area had other students around and friends of the student in detention would come in and sit with them. It was also unclear as to the purpose of the detentions, was it time for the student to reflect on their actions or simply used to punish by taking up the students free time? Most conversations between teachers & staff were one-sided and did not necessarily allow the student to resolve or discuss their actions. It was clear that the application & purpose of detentions needed to be reviewed as supported by the department’s views during a departmental meeting.
If student’s repeatedly offended they were placed on report. This involved the students achieving their individually set behaviour targets each lesson. This allowed closer monitoring of the students behaviour in all lessons. The targets set on some reports were often too general and allowed flexibility in the judgement of the outcomes by teachers. The reports were useful as they facilitated conversation with the student and teacher at the end of lessons developing relationships and providing opportunity for the student to reflect on their actions over the lesson. It was noted that often students would lose their reports or not get their reports completed every lesson with little consequence when given to tutors. This raised an issue of the unimportance and disregard of the severity of being on report by students. If students ultimately did not improve their behaviour this would lead to a behavioural support program and the risk of internal and potentially external exclusion.
Data was gathered from the school monitoring reports and SIMS (Appendix 5). Over the last three years there has been a decline in exclusions from 137 to 96 and withdrawals from 380 to 186 within the whole school. However Disruptive behaviour has returned to high levels from a dip in 2009/10 rising from 3983 up to 4424. By analysing the three areas it can be seen that although the amount of exclusions and withdrawals has decreased, this is accounted for by the contributing percentile increase of disruptive behaviour (Appendix 6).
By analysing the SIMS reports for the whole school the most prevalently recorded behaviour incidents highest first were;
Inadequate work completed in a lesson
Failure to complete homework,
Rudeness to a member of staff
Use of mobile phone/ MP3 in lesson
Failure to attend detentions
Persistent lack of equipment
Disruptive behaviour was by far the highest rating incident recorded, consistent with the Elton report (1989), which identified low-level disruptive behaviour as the most prevalent poor behaviour in schools. A significant number of reports of disruptive behaviour were due to talking out of turn. Disruptive behaviour levels were consistently high through all years with a decrease in year’s 10 & 11, this could be due to the responsibility of learning shifting towards the learner’s as they start preparing for GCSE’s, and that the learners then have the opportunity to personalise their learning programme through options.
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Mobile Phone & MP3’s
School data for 2010/11 identifies mobile phones as the 8th ranked occurring behaviour incident within the school. Through observation around the school it was clear that the use of mobile phones and music players had reached critical level and were continually causing disruption during lessons. Many students would arrive at lessons with mobile phones in hand and headphones in ears. It was good to see that on the majority of times students were challenged and told to put away their mobile phones and earphones at the beginning of a lesson. However this did not have a lasting affect as students often returned to using their mobile phones during lessons when the teacher was not aware of them. Some students continued to listen to music in lessons without being challenged, clearly identifying the issue of inconsistency with the implementation of the behaviour policy. It was clear that this behaviour was being communicated back to senior management, as during briefing the head teacher reiterated the schools policy and through further correspondence with particular focus on the use of mobile phones and music players (Appendix 2). In reaction to this release of policy staff started to clamp down on mobile phone use in lessons, however there were issues with the length of confiscation as this was not made clear. Some staff confiscated the phones till the end of the lesson, some till the end of the day and some even for the rest of the week. Although this revision and awareness of the policy certainly had an impact as staff soon felt empowered to confiscate students mobile phones it did not tackle the issue of as to why students were continually on their phones during lessons. It soon got to a point in some lessons where teachers were repeatedly taking mobile phones off the same students every lesson. Through discussions with students it was noted that students often resort to going on their mobile phones when feeling bored, disengaged in their learning or unsure of what they are doing.
During a whole school meeting on B4L and the revised policy, various departments offered their views and strategies they have implemented to address B4L. The science department had set out a code of conduct with posters clearly indicating to students to put their bags and belongings in a designated area. This is felt to be an issue within the school as a whole as students are continuously carrying their belongings around in lessons and have them at easy reach during lessons, where it was suggested by getting students to leave their bags out of reach has helped reduce the distraction to their learning.
The school operates on a house system where students belong to one of the five houses. Students can gain house points in the form of stickers to the value of 1, 5 and 10 points (Appendix 4, pg8. Each lesson students are able to gain stickers for achieving and taking part in a number of school activities. The ways in which students can achieve house points seem unobtainable on a daily basis for the majority of the school population. Through observations of tutor time students were asked to count up their points during the week, which were recorded onto SIMS. It appeared that on the whole students were receiving reasonably high amounts of points on a weekly basis including those who were known to staff as having regular behavioural problems. It appeared that the amount of points awarded were not consistent with the reward policy as students commented that some teachers were awarding high points for basic expectations of students which according to the policy only merited a single point.
During the observation of physical education lessons it was apparent that the points system was not being applied as teachers expressed difficulty in physically awarding stickers during lessons due to the nature of the environment. However the staff did focus on recording positive behaviour on SIMS which the students seemed to respond to and want to achieve.
Overall the observation of the reward system identified inconsistency in the administration of the house points and urgently needs reviewing and supported through discussion with staff. It was not clear within the school from a student’s perspective as to what the points contributed towards. There was no immediate or substantial reward for students who achieved in lessons. It was also clear that for some students particularly those who had been identified as SEN that points were awarded for demonstrating basic good behaviour which contradicts the reward policy that states, ‘Points should not be awarded for students displaying the schools basic expectations as agreed by all staff’ (Appendix 4, pg9). The policy also states that individuals can have specific targets set to gain house points but this can only be sanctioned by faculty coordinators and year coordinators.
Based on the findings of this study it is clear that there is need for greater consistency in managing B4L even though the school has the well-structured policies in place. During a whole staff review meeting on B4L the head teacher acknowledged that the policy is not working due to inconsistencies in application. This is current with the rewards system, application of sanctions and addressing of poor behaviour, with particular reference to transition time between lessons and break time (Appendix 2). In order to improve levels of behaviour during break times the school could focus on providing structured sports sessions. Students currently have access to the courts and facilities which are supervised by the PE staff; however there is lack of structure. Through the Physical Education, School Sports & Club Links (PESSCL) (2008) investigations it has been shown that by providing a range of clubs for the students, there has been an improvement in behaviour during lunchtime and afternoon lessons.
Other schools have had success with students who have poor behaviour records and low motivation by providing them with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and then run a sporting competition. This had a positive impact on the student’s self-esteem and attitude to learning (PESSCL, 2008). Ofsted (2000) identified that in schools where teachers agreed to follow procedures for supervision of corridors and outdoor areas between lessons, reduced behaviour incidents and increased punctuality. As identified in this study a large proportion of poor behaviour is due to the inconsistency in applying behaviour policies.
Numerous studies have identified that in order to improve behaviour the school must tackle it as a whole school approach including attainment, teaching and attendance Ofsted (2006; 2000). Ofsted (2006; 2000) also highlight the importance of providing effective teaching that is interesting, structured and works to develop personal learning & thinking skills. By developing these skills students will be able to work independently and take more responsibility for their learning. It is evident that B4L is directly related to Teaching & Learning practice & policy. ‘Schools that have poor behaviour have often been seen to have ineffective teaching’, this is concurrent with the study school as identified in the Ofsted report (2009).Several studies have identified that good teaching can promote good behaviour, creating a positive learning environment. By providing interesting lessons with clear learning objectives, clear expectations, differentiation and recognition of individual achievement learners feel positive about their learning and consequently act in a positive manner (Ofsted 2005;2008).
There is a need for schools and teachers to be proactive in developing learning behaviour rather than simply being reactive to behavioural problems. It would be beneficial to prioritise the development of positive relationships with lear
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