Schools face national behaviour problem, new report suggests

In a recently published independent review, teacher and behaviour expert Tom Bennett said evidence suggested challenging behaviour in schools is a national problem.

While there is no one solution to this widespread problem, the report recommends a number of approaches that can be used to deal with it, including a series of policy recommendations for both the Department for Education and Ofsted.

Mr Bennett suggests the use of a national standardised method for capturing data on school behaviour that goes beyond the current formal recording methods, as well as the development of an optional training scheme for school leaders covering a range of behavioural strategies and examples of best practice in the school system.

The report calls on the schools inspectorate to review its arrangements for obtaining staff and pupil views on behaviour and ensure those views are taken into account as part of school inspections.

The Government welcomed the report and said it will use its findings to inform ongoing work to help and support schools in dealing with this issue.

Tom Bennett said:

How well students behave in school is crucial to how far they succeed, socially and academically. There are many tremendous schools doing a superb job, and some schools that could improve a great deal.

I spoke to leaders of coastal schools, inner-city schools, rural, primary, secondary, alternative provision and asked them what they did. Every school has different circumstances and challenges, but we found that some themes were almost universal: clear routines, robustly administered, high expectations and a focus on building a strong sense of identity and good relationships where children feel they belong, are safe, and are expected to do their best. That’s why I called it ‘creating a culture’. Because these things don’t happen by accident.

We also need to acknowledge that in some schools, challenges faced are greater than in others, and in these circumstances we need to look at better ways of guaranteeing that provision, skill sets and support are available. The skills required to improve school behaviour cultures already exist within the ecosystem of schools. The challenge now is for us to collaborate as a community to do so.

Creating a culture: how school leaders can optimise behaviour’ was published after Mr Bennett spent months meeting classroom teachers and leaders from a variety of schools to identify successful strategies used to tackle disruptive behaviour. It concludes that while there is no ‘silver bullet’, there are a variety of strategies that can be used to tackle poor behaviour.

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