Context for joining Behaviour Hubs
Greenacres is a smaller than average primary school, situated in one of the most deprived areas of Shrewsbury. Pupil numbers have been declining for the past few years; due to low numbers joining Reception, the school is in a difficult financial position.
We support several different groups of learners including 59% FSM and 27% SEND but only 8% of our children are from minority ethnic backgrounds and only 5% EAL. Most of the children are from low-income families and there are many where children’s services are involved.
The most recent Ofsted inspection in November 2022 resulted in a ‘Requires improvement’ judgement with RI in ‘Leadership and Management’, ‘Personal Development’, ‘Behaviour and Attitudes’, and ‘Quality of Education’. The school has worked hard on all aspects of the inspection feedback to turn things around, and we are confident following our participation in the Behaviour Hubs programme that we would now be graded ‘Good’ for both ‘Personal Development’, and ‘Behaviour and Attitudes’.
Behaviour challenges and goals
General behaviour across the school was inadequate. However, times of transition after break and lunch were proving more difficult due to the reluctance of pupils to follow instructions, and our staff’s skills for overcoming this defiance.
Children did not feel the need to be in the classroom and believed engaging with their learning to be something they could opt out of. As a result, there were vast inconsistencies between classrooms with regards to behaviour management and the overall attitudes to learning. Ensuring that all adults in school understood why children show challenging behaviour was also difficult due to preconceived ideas. Some staff felt that children should “just behave” and that times of regulation could be perceived as reward for poor behaviour.
To combat these challenges, we wanted to achieve the following:
- Staff and children know, understand and are ready to contribute to the behaviour culture
- Leaders ensure that rules are explicit, consistent, and reinforce school values and routines.
- Strengthen ‘parents as partners’ ethos regarding behaviour
- All pupils understand the rules, rewards and sanctions, and are able to demonstrate the required learning behaviours.
“Some staff felt that children should ‘just behave’ and that times of regulation could be perceived as reward for poor behaviour.”
Solutions to behaviour challenges
We received an initial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the staff team with regards to their response to behaviour, along with developing an understanding of (and reasons for) the behaviours being exhibited by pupils. As a school we were open minded to change and not afraid to make mistakes – but it took some time to adapt.
Following a visit from Flying High Trust, our SLT were guided through the initial behaviour audit process, and together we identified areas for improvement and potential solutions. We discussed with senior leaders and trust representatives about what our new approach to behaviour management should look like. We were supported with research of the successes in other settings to ensure that our decisions were evidence-informed. These changes included the following:
- Having a clear framework for escalation when behaviour becomes significantly disruptive so that the headteacher can model how to effectively manage those situations to other senior leaders.
- Consistently employing clear sanctions so that consequences are seen as fair and proportionate, holding firm even in difficult situations to ensure the new policy isn’t undermined. This was reinforced in every conversation with pupils and parents following behavioural concerns to construct a powerful narrative for the purpose of the changes and their impact.
- Moving to a positive-first behavioural approach in which praise is regular using Class Dojo and ensuring the relational approach of Mark Finnis is always considered.
- Ensuring follow-up restorative conversations become second nature to all staff.
- Having a clear distinction between what is expected and what is rewarded.
- Creating a new set of values and a fresh vision for the school which underpins the reward elements of the behaviour policy and gives rise to a new behaviour curriculum
- Taking a more analytical approach to our behaviour data to identify specific issues we could work on, and being increasingly able to report on the impact of behavioural changes as a result.
- Gradually changing the culture over time and demonstrating to staff that behaviour is communication.
- Ensure the Greenacres behaviour curriculum and policy are incorporated into the induction process for new staff.
Impact on behaviour
- A reduction in suspensions and exclusions from Autumn term to Spring term (and continued into Summer term) from five suspensions and two exclusions to zero for both.
- A significant reduction in the quantity and severity of behavioural incidents being logged on CPOMS, and low-level disruption being externally ratified on multiple occasions as minimal.
- Behaviour improving from a ‘Requires improvement’ inspection grade in Autumn term to being externally judged to be ‘Good’ consistently in Spring term and Summer term.
- An increase of approximately 4% in attendance due to children feeling safe in school and wanting to be here.
- A radically altered culture and ethos around behaviour management in school based on deeper understanding of staff.
Next steps on your behaviour journey
- School publications such as the newsletter to have behaviour as a standing item each week
- Induction processes to be finalised to ensure consistent messaging for new staff regarding behaviour culture and policy in school
- Continue to broaden staff awareness of factors that can impact children’s behaviour such as ACEs training
- Further improve the analysis of behavioural incidences and the reporting of this to governors and the Trust.
- Continue to monitor behaviour to ensure the policy continues to be a robust deterrent and rewards are consistently applied
- Plan in a behaviour policy introduction element for the parents of the new Reception cohort for September
- Pass on learning from Behaviour Hubs to colleagues within the trust to share good practice and help develop colleagues