How to write a school policy (not just a behaviour one)

21st November 2019  |  by Greg

I’ve read thousands of behaviour polices and a hundreds of non-behaviour policies. If you’re looking to write a new policy, here’s what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t just nick one from another school and adapt it. Your school is your school. Start with your context, not the contents of someone else’s policy.
  2. Don’t make it a list of wishes. Differentiate between ‘Policy’ ie what you want to happen, and ‘Practice’, what actually happens.
  3. Look at what your school (or even one teacher) does well. Ask yourself, should everyone be doing this?
  4. Look at what other schools do well. Ask yourself, should everyone in my school do this?
  5. Ask yourself, what does the research say?
  6. Start with one element of the policy. Consult staff. Train everyone. Embed it. Don’t move onto the next one until the last one is embedded. Go slow, to embed fast.
  7. Don’t just use words. The best policies have pictures and, even better, video.
  8. Revisit and monitoring cycles are not optional. Put them in your policy/practice document. (In your school, what is the ratio of training : revisiting : monitoring for staff meetings over the course of a year?)
  9. Make the policy ‘live’ on Google Docs. Highlight what’s embedded, what you’re working on and what you’d like to embed in medium/long term but not now. Staff can use comments to clarify elements and get advice. Reviewing your policy once a year is pathetic. It should be a living, breathing, organic document.
  10. SLT must look at what else we’re trying to embed across school. Too often, I see different subjects, SEND, assessment, CP etc fighting it out for staff meeting time and school focus. It usually ends up with an email war, piling pressure on teachers. Prioritise.
  11. Make the contents of your policy explicit. Ask yourself, if an NQT read this, would it show them what is embedded at our school and what we’re working on right now. How useful would the document be to them?
  12. Check fidelity (this is how many staff and children use the approach you’ve tried to embed). Most school leaders think strategies are more embedded than they often turn out to be. I know because I check the fidelity of behaviour approaches when I work with a school. Publish fidelity to the staff team.

More information on the ideal behaviour management policy can be found here. Same rules apply, whatever the policy.

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