Driving positive behaviour

John Roberts shares his views on how schools can drive positive behaviour in the classroom using a reward system

Ofsted’s recent report entitled Below the radar: low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms, stated that, “Too many school leaders, especially in secondary schools, underestimate the prevalence and negative impact of low-level disruptive behaviour and some fail to identify or tackle it at an early stage. 

I could not agree more and speak from experience having worked at an incredibly challenging school in North Manchester. In fact, it was here that I first tried my idea of using a reward system to tackle bad behaviour and to track and reward pupils for good behaviour. 

However, once we started using a reward system, I discovered that rewarding good behaviour and addressing poor behaviour on a per-incident basis alone was not enough.

The perfect scenario is a reward system that allows teachers to analyse several areas of pupil behaviour, from positive acts like exceptional academic work and helping their peers, to negative incidents such as low-level disruption or even bullying. It should be easy to use by teachers and parents alike and require little to no training. Encouraging teachers to document as much information as possible is important, as is providing parents – key influences on that student – with access to the system. 

The report further stated that, “Inconsistency in applying behaviour policies also annoys pupils and parents. For too many pupils, having a calm and orderly environment for learning is a lottery.” Therefore it is important that the behaviour policy is defined by the school and is consistent at every level, so that pupils, parents and teachers are aware of what is acceptable, what should be rewarded and what should be sanctioned. In order for any reward system to be truly effective, incidents must be followed up, whole school and parent communications must be regular and the school’s behaviour policy adhered to. 

The report also stated that, “Behaviour has a detrimental impact on the life chances of too many pupils and can also drive away hard-working teachers from the profession.” In our Reward System pilot school, Little Lever School in Bolton, Ofsted credited our solution as “Enabling pastoral leaders to monitor very effectively pupils’ successes and areas for development.” Pastoral care is an integral factor in the success of the school because ultimately good behaviour makes teaching and learning in the classroom easier, so helping students to improve results and progress academically.

Behaviour tracking should not necessarily be viewed as negative because the schools we work with have reported that 75% of actions logged have been positive events. This shows that pupils respond favourably to positive support. 

The responsibility to drive positive behaviour in a pupil does not lie with a single individual and that is why it is important for incidents to be logged quickly and efficiently and for them to be shared with colleagues and parents.

John Robert is former assistant head teacher and director of Sixth Domain, developers of Reward SystemFor more information on Reward System please visit https://www.the-contactgroup.com/products/reward-system/