Why we ditched ‘consistency’ when managing behaviour

In our school, we have recently moved away from any fixed notions of zero tolerance or rigid behaviour policies. We found that the more we used black-and-white measures of expectations and associated consequences, the more some pupils deliberately targeted the rule – it was making things worse, not better. Tes reports.

So what do we do instead? We have adopted a notion of “flexible consistency” – we take each significant case on its merits and problem solve as a team to identify a plan. That can be a sanction, it can be an exclusion, or it can be something different. What it is not is one rule and one consequence for any given action.

What guides us is a single central question: “What will change after we do this?” So if we use an exclusion, will that stop the behaviour in future, will it resolve a given situation? If it doesn’t, why are you using it?

Staff have had to become much better at communicating with each other, in terms of what is going on with the pupils. Tutors have a significant role to play in this, liaising back to staff regarding any updates on their tutees.

We need to have complete trust in those tutors as we have empowered them to act on behalf of their pupils: they make decisions regarding an almost inexhaustible list of actions including timetable, behaviour and welfare. We need to remain assured that they are using their professionalism and skill to make the best possible decision for the benefit of the welfare and outcomes of their tutee and to recognise that they are privy to much more information than we might be, and they deserve that professional courtesy and respect.

Fine, you might think, but this would not work in a mainstream school. We can only do it because we are a PRU.

But although mainstream schools, by necessity, run in a different manner to referral units, the principle will remain the same. All staff need to trust that their team, department or SLT is making the best judgements they can, based on the greatest range of information available.

Read the full article Why we ditched ‘consistency’ when managing behaviour 

Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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