A Brief History of Behaviour in Schools

8th January 2012  |  by Greg

In 1986 corporal punishment was banned in state schools in the UK. From that point onwards, if you wanted to have your children physically abused by professionals, you had to send them to private school. (Unfortunately for some, the ban was extended to private education in 1999.)

So, what strategies have the teaching profession used to manage behaviour in schools since then?

Popular strategies that don’t work:

1. Shouting

Still massively popular with some teachers, is giving the children a good old-fashioned shouting at. Everyone feels better after a good, raised-voice rant (apart from the children of course and sometimes not even the teacher.)

2. Having a chat with them

This particular approach goes a bit like this: A pupil does something wrong – the teacher has a chat with them. The pupil does something a bit more serious – the teacher has a longer chat with them. Then if the pupil does something really serious, instead of an even longer chat, they get sent to the highest-paid person in the building, who’ll (guess what?) have a chat with them. This is repeated until the child leaves the school.

3. Sticking with incredibly dull, usually exercise-book based work that simply minimises the chance of poor behaviour

Just like arranging your classroom tables in rows, this is great for teachers but terrible for learners.

4. Ignoring poor behaviour

More prevalent than you’d imagine. This is where teachers simply pretend that everything is OK with behaviour.

Popular strategies that do work but need to be massively updated based on the research we now have:

1. Warning systems

The problem with warning systems is that they work even when they are done really badly. However, it doesn’t take much of a change to make warning systems much more effective and much more consistent.

EASY WIN: The first thing we have to do is make sure our pupils know what is expected. When they know this, then we can be much fairer when moving them through our chosen system. I cover this in more detail in the 50 Minute Behaviour Course.

2. Rewards

Rewards are the bluntest instrument for behaviour management we use in schools today.  The policy of rewards, stickers and stamps is so endemic that it is now beyond question. However we really need to question it. I will be in 2012. I hope you’ll join me.

That was the history. Teachers, just like you, will shape the future.


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