There is a classic experiment in the history of managing the behaviour of school pupils and schools in which a school in a high poverty low-expectation area of Maryland USA, adopted the syllabus and teaching methods of an extremely conservative nearby private school.
The experiment proved once and for all that a key factor in determining the behaviour of pupils was not so much the syllabus or the background of the students, but rather the unification of the view of the staff.
In short, where different staff hold, implement (or indeed fail to implement) different approaches to behaviour then behavioural issues arise. Where there is a true unification of purpose via one selected approach, then matters progress quickly.
The book, Improving attitudes, managing behaviour and reducing exclusions, builds from this finding, a finding which puts the power to change pupil and student behaviour totally back in the hands of the school and its teachers.
The view of the book is very clear: schools improve when those in the school decide to improve the school, not because of government initiatives, curricula, inspectors, naming and shaming or anything else imposed from without.
For, once a school has its own unified policy, it is able to project that policy to parents and students alike and thus extend the unity of purpose to all members of the school.
Through this unified approach everyone within the school is able to be proud of the school through knowing exactly what its approach to behaviour is, as much as everyone will know what its approach to teaching and learning is.
Within such an approach, everything is covered. A parental complaint about behaviour, for example, is immediately seen by everyone involved within the context of the school’s policy to which everyone has signed up. Through this approach the issues of teaching and learning, motivation and behaviour all start to exist in a unified concept. Each issue is related to the others, and everyone knows where they stand.
But the key issue is not just the development of a new policy to which everyone agrees. It is the implementation and maintenance of the policy every day of the school year.
And it is this issue of seeing both the introduction and the maintenance of the policy as being of equal importance that marks out this approach from so many others. For whatever changes are introduced to the school, there will be objections, which as often as not are simply objections to change rather than objections in principle as they are so often expressed.
It is the overcoming of such objections and the insistence on the maintenance of the new approach that ensures that in the end the school is operating in the way that everyone wants.
You can see some sample pages at http://pdf.firstandbest.co.uk/education/T1813.pdf
Publisher’s reference: T1813EMN ISBN: 978 1 86083 821 7
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