Creating a culture

25 Jul

By Dr Morris Charlton, Voice Regional Officer (Yorkshire), for the August 2017 issue of Your Voice. In a past life he was a headteacher and is still involved in training and inspecting.

Creating a Culture: How school leaders can optimise behaviour – an independent review of behaviour in schools by Tom Bennett

The aim of this study, an independent review of behaviour in schools, was to help to identify evidence of effective strategies in managing behaviour so that school leaders can ‘optimise behaviour’ among their pupils. Tom Bennett led the review on behalf of the Government. I’m not too sure what ‘optimising behaviour’ means!

After 30 years as a headteacher in specialist residential provision for young people – who are now designated Social, Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) – I was intrigued as to what ‘new’ the report would recommend. It was reassuring to read that very little was ‘new’. It was an assemblage of good solid practice.

However, I am disappointed that this report doesn’t seem to be top of the reading list in schools! Please let me know below if you have:

  • seen the report;
  • read it; and/or
  • changed practice as a consequence.

You can download it at:

The key policy recommendations for schools
  • Use behaviour audits to create a national data map for capturing data on school behaviour that ‘goes beyond the present formal recording methods’. Information recorded could include the types of misbehaviour, and how much lesson time is lost through dealing with behaviour. I would find this a little worrying if it wasn’t being done already!
  • The information could be used by Ofsted during inspections. The report suggested that Ofsted inspectors could utilise the behaviour audits to ensure they have ‘appropriate access to the views of the range of staff and pupils’ at a school. The proposals formed part of a wider recommendation for Ofsted to review its processes for getting the views of staff and pupils – ensuring they target the ‘most vulnerable and at-need staff’, such as trainees, supply teachers, and catering staff.
  • The report flagged up funding issues – but it’s unlikely to get any better.
  • The report also suggested the establishment of internal exclusion units in school with appropriate funding.
  • Set up a new optional training scheme for heads that includes behaviour. I’m really disappointed that it’s only optional and for heads – there is some confusion here as reference is made to ‘heads’ and ‘school leaders’ – it should be for ‘senior managers’ and it should not be optional. We need to be giving teachers the skills they need to manage challenging youngsters. Accessing high quality Inset is becoming more and more difficult and costly.

The report is 76 pages long. I hope it hasn’t been lost in arguments and debate on high needs funding, the National Funding Formula, mental health initiatives, grammar schools, Brexit and general elections!

My print-out of the report will be used when I deliver behaviour Inset, be it top end RPI (Restrictive Physical Intervention) or in a mainstream school. If you get the ethos and feel of the school right by going back to solid, good, sound practice, as alluded to in the report, youngsters, parents and staff will all benefit.





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