Education Endowment Foundation Series
A summary of the evidence
When seeking to improve behaviour within schools, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) states there is evidence to suggest that when teachers get to know their pupils, the impact on classroom behaviour is compellingly positive. To be able to get to know pupil influences, especially in instances where multiple adults have sustained and frequent interactions with a particular pupil, information sharing becomes vital. Information should be sought and needs to be willingly shared in order for professionals to develop an understanding of how this information can be used to adopt behaviour approaches that reflect individual needs. The EEF suggests that the establish-maintain-repair method can be used to establish positive relationships through intentional practice. Positive efforts must also be made by the teacher to sustain the relationship whilst restoring any harm to the relationship due to potentially negative interactions.
Although managing misbehaviour is considered a fundamental aspect of behaviour management, teaching and learning behaviours, alongside managing misbehaviour, can have a profound and long-lasting impact on both academic achievement and cognitive ability. Encouraging self-reflection on behaviour, for example, can help to develop self-regulation and coping skills as well as a number of other crucial life skills. The EEF explains that Powell and Tods’ (2004) Behaviour for Learning Conceptual Framework illustrates how teachers can examine learning behaviours by looking at how pupil influences affect them, whilst exploring how the learning behaviour can be addressed through relationships with the self, others and the curriculum. Powell and Tod’s framework recognises the importance of ensuring that pupils can access the curriculum, engage with lesson content and participate in their learning as it provides the conditions for learning behaviours to develop.
In addition to getting to know pupils and enabling opportunities to develop learning behaviours, implementing classroom management strategies that support good behaviour in the classroom can help to improve behaviour in school. Focusing on developing effective classroom management strategies is essential for not only teacher well-being but also for pupil well-being and achievement. Evidence indicates that the most effective training for classroom management is that which involves elements of teacher reflection, encouragement to try new approaches and reviewing the success of those approaches over time. Although developing effective behaviour management approaches may require additional training or external expertise, simple approaches that are east to implement, such as greeting each pupil at the door or giving behaviour-related praise, should not be overlooked. Research suggests that these cost-effective strategies could potentially reduce unwanted behaviours, improve attendance and create a more purposeful learning environment.
Whilst the aforementioned recommendations focus specifically on universal approaches to behaviour management, it should be acknowledged that some pupils may need an individualised approach. The EEF suggests that both functional behavioural assessment interventions and those which use daily report cards have the greatest effects. Functional behavioural assessments involve collaborative decision making between both the school and external professionals, using observations to determine possible triggers for unwanted behaviour. Once these triggers have been identified, the school team will decide the positive behavioural strategy to be implemented. Goals will be set, progress will be monitored once the strategy is implemented, and an evaluation will take place after a set period of time to evaluate the outcomes. Daily report cards, which report on behavioural targets that are set, also help to improve communication between the pupil and individuals working with the pupil regarding pupil behaviour.
In order for behaviour approaches to be effective, both the EEF and Ofsted agree that approaches to behaviour must be consistently implemented by all staff. Therefore, when choosing behavioural approaches, schools must consider whether the approach can be implemented consistently with similar results within their setting. The strategic implementation of whole-school approaches should be continuously assessed to evaluate their impact. This provides opportunities for identifying current strengths, areas for development and areas where more information is needed in order to ascertain impact.