Supporting Teaching and Learning in Schools
Unit 5: Promote children and young people’s positive behaviour (A/601/4069)
Learning Criteria: Understand policies and procedures for promoting children and young people’s positive behaviour.
This unit required me to carry out activities that were witnessed in a school setting. Due to confidentiality I will not be including my paperwork that I sent to my tutor here in this post. I hope you understand.
Question 1.1: Summarise the policies and procedures of the setting relevant to promoting children and young people’s positive behaviour.
The Education Act 1997 and the School Standards and Frameworks Act 1998 (Section 61) places a duty on all schools to state and pursue policies to promote good behaviour and discipline, furthermore, OFSTED is required to examine and report on schools’ behaviour policies and their implementation and to report on exclusion rates.
A setting’s behaviour policy shapes its ethos and makes a statement about how it values and includes all the people in it, however, it is not the behaviour policy’s sole responsibility to promote positive behaviour. The policies and subsequent procedures in the primary academy that I current work in that I feel are relevant to promoting positive behaviour within our school includes; the anti bullying policy, the attendance policy, the child protection policy, the happy school policy, the inclusion policy, the physical intervention policy, the playtime policy, the spiritual moral social cultural policy, the drugs policy, the SEND policy, the single equalities policy, the staff code of conduct policy and of course the behaviour policy itself.
How a school’s day-to-day activities of its staff and pupils are infused with these policies and procedures is just as important as the policies themselves. Throughout our school the way pupils are rewarded includes; positive and appropriate verbal praise, awarding individual merit points for behaviour and/or academic work, writing constructive and positive comments on children’s work, using suitable stickers when needed, awarding weekly certificates for demonstrated desired behaviours and awarding the Head Teachers award when earned.
These types of rewards are intended to increase the motivation in a child and by recognising their success will lead to their good behaviour and a positive work ethic. However, where there is praise there must also be sanctions which teaches children that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated for example, instances of bullying, racism, disruptive behaviour and being disrespectful to adults. It is made clear to the child why the sanction has been used in order for them to understand and that change in their behaviour is required in order for further sanctions to be avoided. There is a clear difference made between minor and major offences, however, the focus is on the behaviour rather than the pupil as an individual.
Every individual class has created their own set of ‘Golden Rules’ or ‘Class Rules’ which have been developed by the children themselves (together with the class teacher) and are a positive tool for encouraging good behaviour, allowing for self assessment as well as a pupil being able to monitor the behaviour of the other children in the class. In addition to the class rules, our school council (together with the Head Teacher) have created playtime rules, diner hall rules and library rules which are displayed throughout the school and are referred to continuously by staff and children alike. These rules are our codes of conduct and are designed to show children how they can achieve acceptable standards of behaviour; rules encourage children to behave in a thoughtful and considerate manner which will produce a positive learning environment.
I strongly believe that all adults who work with children and young people have a responsibility to model a high standard of behaviour both in their dealings with minors and the adults around them because their example of behaviour has a significant influence on the children’s behaviour, I feel that this is especially crucial within an educational setting as the pupils are there to actively learn! This belief is shared by the school that I am currently working in and to compliment this fundamental premise, they have created and adopted strategies that encourage positive behaviour while deterring unwanted ones.
Question 1.2:Evaluate how the policies and procedures of the setting support children and young people to:
make a positive contribution
develop social and emotional skills
understand expectations and limits
UK government’s Every Child Matters is a framework of outcomes that puts a child’s welfare at the forefront by ensuring that every child has the support they need to stay healthy, be safe, enjoy life, achieve economically and contribute to society positively (Every Child Matters Online [available] http://www.everychildmatters.co.uk/ 11/05/2016). Following on from my answer to Question 1.1 (Summarise the policies and procedures of the setting relevant to promoting children and young people’s positive behaviour) the primary academy that I am currently working in has created many policies, procedures and strategies with these outcomes, as well as other legislations, frameworks and statuary guidance, in mind when dealing with the subject of behaviour.
I completely agree with the premise that an educational setting should ensure that every child attending the school feels safe and the primary academy that I currently work in concurs with this absolutely.
It is with the creation of such ‘safeguarding’ policies like our anti-bullying, child protection, drugs and of course behaviour policy that the school can support children and young people to feel safe by having the procedures in place that not only deal with any instances of inappropriate behaviour with consistency but also comply with current legislation. For example, our school has a zero tolerance for bullying and by having an anti-bullying policy the children (and parents) know that it is not acceptable behaviour. After talking to a few classes about this subject recently, I have no doubt that most children in the school fees confident enough to report an incident if one occurs, either involving themselves or another pupil and who they can go to within the school to talk about any such situations is regularly discussed during whole school worship or PSHE sessions. Of course, we shouldn’t forget the important role that having a positive teacher-student relationship plays for children and young people to feel safe and secure at school.
It should also be mentioned here that having statuary policies concerned with these issues means that the school has a legal duty to ensure that all staff working are trained on the correct protocols on a regular basis. This means that all staff are always on the look-out for inappropriate behaviour, signs of abuse, etc ensuring that interventions can take place before a pupil’s circumstances and/or behaviours reach a crisis point, this generates a further level of protection which will add to a pupil’s feeling of wellbeing and safety.
We also have an ‘Open door policy’ where any parent who has concerns are able to meet with the class teacher or the Head Teacher to talk through any worries or anxieties that they may be experiencing which supports the families of our children to feel safe and secure too.
Make A Positive Contribution.
A school is an organisation of learning and as such should ensure that every pupil has the opportunity to make a positive contribution and the primary academy that I currently work in is no exception. It is with such policies and procedures like the inclusion policy, SEND policy, equal opportunities policy, happy school policy, etc that support children to make a positive contribution.
We allow our students’ to make positive contributions in all aspects of their learning and development, by providing plenty of opportunities for independent thought and self-government supporting activities that nurture the sense of control over their own behaviours and goals. For example, including the pupils in setting the ground rules in their class i.e. creating ‘Golden Rules’, welcoming students’ opinions and ideas before, during and after school council meetings and by giving the children the time they need to understand and absorb an activity by themselves.
A child or young person should feel like they make a positive contribution to their school by being noticed and rewarded for their achievements. Certificates, head teacher stickers, merit points are all ways of boosting a child’s confidence and can encourage positive behaviour.
In our school children are commended on their contribution to the school by receiving a ‘star of the week’ award or ‘head teacher’s award’ and they can also earn merit points if they have worked well or have demonstrated positive behaviour which go towards their house (badgers, hares, otters or squirrels); by doing this it gives the children a sense of achievement and makes them feel like they are contributing to the school.
Of course I understand that positive pupil contribution is linked to creating and maintaining positive teacher-student relationships; high quality teacher-pupil relationships are a key factor in determining student engagement, especially in the case of difficult students and those from lower social and economic backgrounds which our school has limited experience due to the demographic catchment area.
Develop Social and Emotional Skills.
It is not just the role of a school to teach a child to read, write and count but to develop his/her social and emotional skills too. It is with such school policies and procedures as the behaviour policy, the PSHE policy, the playtime policy, the inclusion and equal opportunities policies, the anti-bullying policy, the child protection policy, the anti-racism policy, etc. that our school supports the development of children and young people’s social and emotional skills. The aim of these policies is to encourage pupils to not only value themselves but others too by respecting everyone’s rights and not just tolerating differences but embracing them.
It is essential that children’s social and emotional skills are developed and taught as early as possible in order to give them the best chance of developing a healthy, emotional and social wisdom later on in life, it is important that children learn social skills such as taking turns, learn to cooperate, be able to respond assertively in certain circumstances and to gain confidence in social situations. In practice, collaborative learning is a good example of this because when pupils work effectively with their peers, or others, their engagement is consequently amplified, mostly due to experiencing a sense of connection to during the activities. To make group work more productive, strategies are implemented to ensure that pupils know how to communicate and behave. Other effective methods that we use in school includes; teacher modelling and fostering individual accountability by assigning different jobs and/or roles to the pupils.
Basic everyday good manners should always be recognised and a subtle prompt given if missed to ensure the correct level of respect is both given and received. Social etiquette and other moral, social and cultural issues can be taught during Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) lessons. It is by planning these learning outcomes that the school ensures that all children develop the personal abilities and skills that will motivate them to strive for higher personal achievement, socially and academically throughout their lives; PHSE also helps a child to understand how they are developing personally and socially and tackles many of the moral, social and cultural quandaries that are part of growing up and as a parent myself, I am quite glad that some of these issues are examined and discussed as part of the national curriculum.
Understand Expectations and Limits.
All children and young people in a school setting should understand and know the expectations and boundaries set by their school. The policies and procedures that support children and young people to understand these expectations and boundaries for the primary academy that I currently work in includes; attendance, physical intervention, drugs, and behaviour policies. We can see these policies in action outlined in class rules, school rules, PSHE lessons and playground rules and the fact that pupils know that if these expectations are not met on a regular basis then appropriate actions are taken by the staff member/teacher.
Having behaviour related policies and procedures in a setting help children understand that they must develop a sense of personal responsibility that, if learned well, should be carried outside of school and into adulthood. For example apologising when it is necessary to do so and when it is appropriate, graciously accepting the consequences of their own actions and behaviour, being able to recognise the opportunities to help others, controlling the urge to over react in situations and to willingly take on responsibility. Of course, it is one thing to know what is expected of you it is quite another to put it into action, however, I feel that it is the role and responsibility of the school to support children to learn these skills while highlighting that it is also in a child’s best interest to actually demonstrate positive behaviour, as it has a knock on effect of helping them to accomplish and reach their own personal goals and targets.
Of course, positive discipline strategies begin with adult behaviours such as good boundary setting and clearly communicating those limits which should also include teaching pupils what appropriate behaviours are expected, giving cues for the new behaviour, giving choices and supporting children in their new behaviour. Positive guidance and discipline can also include changing something about a situation that triggers unwanted behaviours and sometimes even ignoring that behaviour when it is safe and appropriate to do so.
Question 1.3: Explain the benefits of all staff consistently and fairly applying boundaries and rules for children and young people’s behaviour in accordance with the policies and procedures of the setting
As I have already said when answering the last question, children need to know where they stand. Louise Burnham puts it nicely in her book “The Teaching Assistant’s Handbook,
“If all members of the school community are using the same principles and strategies when managing behaviour, it is far more likely that the children will respond positively. Children will know the scale of rewards and sanctions, and the order in which they will be applied, whoever is speaking to them about their behaviour.”
(Burnham, L (2006) The Teaching Assistant’s Handbook Heinemann Educational Publishers, Oxford)
meaning that having a clear set of rules and a framework of consequences that are applied consistently, appropriately and fairly, by all school staff not only helps the children to understand quickly what is acceptable and what’s not but also helps to keep the learning environment calm and orderly. If you are inconsistent the children can become confused and may become scared or withdraw or lead to aggressive behaviour born out of frustration because they are unsure of whether their actions are leading them into trouble or not.
If children perceive a staff member to be someone who deals with them fairly, they are likely to respect them and appreciate his/her role within the school. However, if there is a real or perceived difference of how behaviour is rewarded/sanctioned or the reaction to individual children’s behaviours are diverse, not only could he/she be accused of favouritism, bias or victimisation but on a personal note, this inconsistency can project an image of someone who lacks control or doesn’t know what they are doing and therefore that staff member will lose their authority and respect, not just from the children but potentially from colleagues too.
Being aware of the choices available to them helps children to take responsibility for their own behaviour and provides an environment in which they can make positive behaviour choices. Also, consistent application of consequences is more likely to be perceived as fair because the expectations are clear and there are no unexpected outcomes.
Ideally pupils should be included in the consultation process which determines the consequences as with the class behaviour rules in operation in our school. A teacher at the school that I currently work in told me that this collaboration helps to ensure that the consequences are appropriate and work well but that it also promotes ownership by the pupils themselves and a shared sense of responsibility for behaviour in class and I have seen the benefits myself first hand in her lessons.
So in conclusion, I understand that each member of staff has his/her own personality and stamps this on their lessons, however, the key to effective work in this school seems to be joint planning where behaviour is concerned; the range of consequences including how, when and why each reward/sanction should be used needs to be consistent and in line with policies and procedures when this is the case then everyone – staff, pupils and parents have an understanding of the rules, boundaries and behaviour expectations as well as any sanctions that will result from transgressions, this results in a calmer, smoother day and easier year group to year group transitions and hopefully lays the foundations for well adjusted, rounded, self-moderating adults of the future.
My answers to the next questions in this unit will follow…