Reflect on the practical approaches that are offered in two officially endorsed documents:

a. The Report of the Practitioners Group on School Behaviour and Discipline, chaired by Sir Alan Steer (2005) updated 2009 [In particular chapter 4 (p.36), chapter 5 (p.49) and Appendix A (p.72)]

b. School OFSTED Report or alternative local document selected in discussion with your Professional Tutor.

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Examine these approaches in the light of your reading of the theory and background research underpinning these reports. Analyse how your future development as a classroom practitioner has been (and continues to be) informed by blending these reports with your own further evidence on behaviour management.

“Learning, teaching and behaviour are inseparable issues for schools.” (Steer, 2009, p.41) This is highlighted by Sir Alan Steer’s report and several other recent documents on improving behaviour and raising standards in schools, including Improving behaviour, OFSTED, November 2006 and The Extra Mile – How schools succeed in raising aspirations in deprived communities, DCSF, 2008. By attempting to further my Continual Professional Development (CPD) I will examine the Steer Report, School X’s Ofsted report and case studies of pupils at School X in relation to both School X’s policies and practice and my teaching practice there.

According to Steer and School X’s March 2010 Ofsted report, a consistent behaviour policy is imperative to establishing a safe and purposeful learning environment (Steer, 2009, p.35; Ofsted, 2010, p.4). Furthermore, they agree that a rigorous and personalised teaching and learning policy needs to be implemented and maintained in order to tackle behaviour and improve learning, (Ofsted, 2010, p.4). Although School X’s Ofsted report states, “pupils’ achievement is inadequate”, it also says “pupils are friendly…They feel safe…playground incidents are quickly sorted out.” (2010, p.5-6) According to Ofsted, this is because the one recommendation for improvement that the school did respond to from the last inspection was behaviour, and the report concludes that “pupils understand and respond to the school’s reward systems, and behaviour is satisfactory overall.” (2010, p.4) This is inline with Steer’s recommendations that schools should “have a wide range of appropriate rewards and sanctions and ensure they are applied fairly and consistently by all staff.” (2009, p.34)

School X was recently amalgamated with an infant school and taken over by a Leading Learning Executive (LLE) who has implemented a new behaviour system from the ‘sister school’, School Y. This behaviour system is clear and comprehensive, laying out coherent expectations for staff and pupils. There is a reward of a non-academic end of term trip such as a trip to the cinema. Children who behave well and keep their behaviour passport go on this trip; those who lose their passport more than four times a term do not. This reward appears to be encouraging children to behave. However, as we are not yet at the end of term it is difficult to comment on the full impact of the behaviour system, as we have not yet seen the repercussions of those children who are not allowed on the trip.

This passport system is ingrained in daily school life and staff try to implement it consistently, including myself, “irrespective of gender, race, disability or religion.” (School X Behaviour Policy, 2010, p.2). Nevertheless, at times this is difficult to execute. Some children do not respond to ‘warnings’ and end up losing their passport on a regular basis. Sometimes it is difficult to judge which actions deserve a ‘warning’, and which others deserve a ‘verbal’ or ‘rule reminder’, the more severe sanctions. Furthermore, when I have sought advice from experienced colleagues their views seem to vary. A colleague who feared a backlash from Pupil C’s parents, who had been aggressive and confrontational at parents evening over a warning Pupil C had received from me, overturned a subsequent warning I gave to Pupil C and several others. I feel this inconsistency not only undermined my authority but also the behaviour policy itself. This may give rise to problems amongst staff, children and their parents, who are confused by this inconsistency, as Steer concurs, (2009, p.42). Thus I do not think School X has yet managed to implement the behaviour policy consistently across the school. I will nevertheless continue to implement the behaviour policy as consistently as possible. As the behaviour policy is the backbone of School X, this should help to create a purposeful learning environment.

Steer recommends high expectations throughout the school, including a staff dress code. He believes this will contribute to a professional working environment and thus affect the work of both teachers and pupils, (2009, p.37). I have been following a smart business dress code, which has been encouraged by my co-teacher. After half term School X is implementing a new dress code with a strict no jeans and trainers policy. However, School X’s Ofsted report does not suggest professional dress will affect either the behaviour or attainment of children in the school. Similarly, I do not feel my dress code has impacted on my teaching or the pupils’ learning and indeed I have observed some very experienced and effective teachers at School X who dress casually. Therefore I do not believe a dress code will necessarily have an impact on School X’s teaching and learning.

In addition to a dress code, there are many other rules and routines in place at School X that have been influenced by Steer’s recommendations. Learning Walks have been conducted by the Senior Management Team (SMT) to observe and monitor the standard of teaching, and I have received constructive feedback from my co-teacher following observations. These have guided the school’s focus on literacy, an area in their Ofsted report that was highlighted as being particularly weak, (2010, p.7). Guided reading, guided writing, handwriting and vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation (VCOP) are built into School X’s literacy planning pro forma. Although at times this promotes inflexibility and a lack of creativity, it helps my practice by building structure into my plans.

High standards of presentation have been set by School X’s Marking and Feedback Policy; as a result several children have lost their ‘pen licences’, writing in pencil until their handwriting improves. Although I do not entirely agree with some aspects of this policy, I appreciate the need for high standards as Steer recommends. These high standards should, as Steer suggests, allow the creation of a purposeful learning environment, (Steer, 2009, p.37).

Steer emphasises the importance of “a staff who have a culture of collegiate professionalism, working together as a team” (Steer, 2009, p.35). This seems an obvious statement, but, as Steer points out, “the education system knows what works in schools, even if in reality practice can vary considerably.” (Steer, 2009, p.36) Professionalism is fundamental to the success of any workplace; when School X’s staff behave professionally we work more effectively as a team and thus the working environment is less stressful. This is reflected in the behaviour of staff and in turn the pupils, who work better in response to a less stressed teacher and a carefully constructed lesson. Therefore professionalism is the single most effective strategy I try to demonstrate in order to create and maintain a purposeful learning environment.

The Steer Report promotes the idea of pupil collaboration and input into their learning and this idea has influenced School X, (Steer, 2009, p.41). At the start of every term there is a ‘co-construction’ lesson, whereby the teachers ask the children what they would like to learn in the Creative Curriculum. This gives the pupils ownership and responsibility over their learning, and so a more enjoyable learning experience. However, in practice the teachers had a clear idea of what they wanted the children to ‘choose’ and so could steer the children’s choices to suit their plans. Although I appreciate the need for guidance, particularly amongst primary school children, the practical lesson felt manufactured and inhibited the children’s freedom and creativity, detracting from the original pupil-focused idea.

Steer recommends that in order to combat behaviour problems staff should have training on children with Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD). This statement is particularly pertinent to School X as its “[p]upils with special educational needs and/or disabilities…make less progress than their peers in other schools because their needs are not fully met.” (Ofsted, 2010, p.5) Steer recommends the use of learning mentors in order to provide pastoral support for such children, (2009, p.50). Although School X employed learning mentors last year, none are in place this year, which could be detrimental to a school that has a higher than average proportion of SEN and EAL pupils, (Ofsted, 2010, p.3).

Pupil A, of black Caribbean origin in my year 6 class, has both severe SEN and BESD. Having spent two years in a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), the pupil is struggling to settle back into a mainstream school. Although support and information has been sought from the former and current Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo), my co-teacher and I only gained access to Pupil A’s file in week 5 of the term. Although my co-teacher is extremely skilled and experienced, and is in fact an Advanced Skills Teacher (AST), neither her nor myself are fully trained to deal with a child with such severe problems. This has hindered his progress, his behaviour and our teaching of the class as a whole. However, School X does now have a PRU nursery onsite, and although it is not officially affiliated with the school, it will hopefully mean there is an expert onsite who can provide informal advice on pupils in the school. Pupil A has a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) assigned to him at all times, who is generally very effective in controlling his behaviour. Having reflected on a turbulent first few weeks, my co-teacher and I now work closely with the LSA to ensure Pupil A is supported sufficiently. We simultaneously try to ensure he is also able to work with other pupils and adults so the support from the LSA is not suffocating, and so that Pupil A does not become too dependent on the LSA. In turn, I hope Pupil A will be accepted into a mainstream secondary school. After a successful parents evening with Pupil A’s mother, I am confident this can happen.

The involvement of parents and carers is crucial to the individual success of a pupil and a school, and schools must “constantly assess their effectiveness in reaching out to parents” (Steer, 2009, p.52). Although School X’s LLE has been very active in trying to involve the parents by organising coffee mornings and parents evenings at flexible times, inviting parents to assemblies and sending correspondence, he has not yet succeeded in gaining their trust and support. Any parent who said they were attending an organised event and did not, received a letter from the school. Many parents reacted violently to this and felt belittled. Although I appreciate the efforts being made by School X to involve parents and carers, it seems the “ethos of respect among pupils, parents and school staff” that Steer recommends has not been created, and perhaps a more flexible and sympathetic approach needs to be taken, (2009, p.35). This has affected my practice as at parents evening I was forced into a position where I had to defend the LLE’s actions, despite not wholeheartedly agreeing with them. I eventually managed to placate the parent, explaining School X’s efforts to get parents more involved.

In his report, Sir Alan Steer makes many constructive recommendations, however it seems the majority of them are neither revolutionary nor unknown, as Steer himself admits “the education system knows what works in schools, even if in reality practice can vary considerably…the need for an emphasis on consistent high standards, collegiate professionalism and teamwork is constant.” (Steer, 2009, p.36) Fortunately, I work at a school that has taken on board many of Steer’s recommendations, as well as those of its recent Ofsted report, and is trying to implement them thoroughly and consistently throughout the school. Although this does not always happen in practice, it is reflected in School X’s policies, which directly affects my teaching practice. I will continue to carry out these policies to the best of my ability and hope to see a marked difference in behaviour and levels by the end of the year.

Reference List

OFSTED (March 2010) School X OFSTED Inspection Report. No longer available online, see Appendix B.

Steer, Sir Alan (2009) Learning Behaviour: Lessons Learned, A review of behaviour standards and practices in our schools, DCSF.

School Documents:

School X Behaviour Policy (2010)

Bibliography

Arthur, James and Cremin, Teresa (eds.) (2010) Learning to Teach in the Primary School 3rd edn. London: Routledge

DCSF (2008) The Extra Mile – How schools succeed in raising aspirations in deprived communities.

Ellis, S. and Tod, J. (2009) Behaviour for Learning: Proactive Approaches to Behaviour Management, David Faulton, Abingdon

OFSTED (November 2006) Improving behaviour

Pollard, A. (2008) Reflective Teaching: Evidence-informed Professional Practice, Continum, London

Powell, S. and Tod, J. (2004) A systematic review of how theories explain learning behaviour in school contexts. In: Research Evidence in Education Library. London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education.

Steer, Sir Alan (2009) Learning Behaviour: Lessons Learned, A review of behaviour standards and practices in our schools, DCSF.

Steer, Sir Alan (2005) The Report of the Practitioners Group on School Behaviour and Discipline, DCSF.

http://www.behaviour4learning.ac.uk/

http://nationalstrategies.standards.dcsf.gov.uk/secondary/behaviourattendanceandseal/behaviour

http://www.rtweb.info/

http://www.teachernet.gov.uk/wholeschool/behaviour/

http://www.teachers.tv/videos/discussion-programme-behaviour

http://www.teachers.tv/cowley

School Documents

School X Behaviour Policy (2010)

School X Marking and Feedback Policy (2010)

School X SEN Policy (2010)

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