Behaviour Policy Feedback #1

12th December 2017  |  by Greg

I’m working with a school in Australia at the moment, and they asked me to give them some feedback on their behaviour policy.

Example Discipline Guidelines

Here’s my feedback:

 I’ve had a good look at the documents and I have some feedback.

One way to evaluate the effectiveness of a policy is to ask a few questions:

  1. How useful is the document to a new member of staff or HLTA covering PPA?
  2. How confident would a member of staff be in their practice being correct, if it was based on the contents of the policy?
  3. To what extent does the policy reflect practice at your school?
  4. If you deleted the elements of the policy that do not describe explicitly the agreed policy for behaviour, how much text would be left?

There where two areas that I started to talk about on the phone, that I’d suggest should be given much greater emphasis:

1. An instructional approach to behaviour.

The policies mention ‘respect’ and ‘politeness’ on a few occasions. I understand the intent here, but these phrases are unhelpful in behaviour policies in my experience. I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t talk about and encourage both of these qualities, but policies should try to focus on observable behaviours. A good way to think about this is in terms character and actions. Character is hard to define; actions are easier to define. It is best to teach the specific positive actions that lead to good character, than to ask for good character. Some schools use the phrase: We use positive language and actions, as this more accurately describes the behaviour we are looking for.

This instructional approach avoids any vagueness. So rather than “Talk quietly” it is best to use language such as Silent voice, Partner Voice, Table Voice, Classroom Voice. With partner or table voice we can teach children early in school how to use a voice that only their partner/table can hear.

2. Planned, specific, scripted responses.

When we don’t get the specific behaviours we want, it’s key that we empower staff with appropriate and reasonable responses. These responses are as unobtrusive as possible in the first instance leading, if necessary, to intervention by senior leaders and pastoral staff. I recommend parents are informed early in the plan, if behaviour is affecting learning.

I’d recommend working towards a policy that has clear responses for staff, even going as far as recommending scripts to use when giving instructions, reminders and warnings. It is then also much easier to see that staff are following the procedure (or not).

If you’d like to make your behaviour policy the useful document in your school, get in touch.

 

 

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