Why behaviour data is your friend

3rd November 2019  |  by Greg

If I told you a Year 9 student received fifty negative referrals last half term, what would you think?

It’s a trick question.

I ask this question in my training sessions and I’ve seen a pattern in the answers. Many, but by no means all, say that the student’s behaviour needs looking into.

What if I then told you that this student received these fifty negative referrals from just two of his fourteen teachers.

What might we assume?

It’s easy to assume that these two teachers are struggling to cope. Maybe they are new to school or newly qualified?

However, what if these teachers were experienced, high performing practitioners? Should we go back to assuming that the pupil is the ‘source of the problem’?
What if, with some gentle investigation, we found that the increased number of referrals happened in the two subjects the pupils had decided not to study at GCSE?

Imagine we were half as good at collecting, analysing and acting upon behaviour data as we are for academic progress data.


One of the reasons we don’t collect and analyse behaviour data as robustly as we should is that we don’t believe the data is true. I’d suggest it doesn’t matter if it’s true. Good data allows us to formulate questions that help is to identify what the most sensible next intervention might be for a pupil or a teacher. Alternatively it can help school leadership to examine whether their current approach to behaviour is the right one.

Data, is your friend, whether it tells the truth or not.

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