The need to manage behaviour has long been an issue within schools. With the push on raising attainment, the development of SEN provision and the increase in policy, to be inclusive of all learners irrespective of their academic level or their social behaviour, as identified that 20% of all SEN learners have SEBD. Current policy has adapted towards a positive approach focusing on the ability of teachers to create a positive learning environment developing positive relationships in order to promote a positive attitude towards learning, steering away from the once punitive approach and not being re-active to negative behaviour but more pro-active as supported by (EPPI)
Behaviour management is often flagged as an area that ITE students feel they would benefit from having greater support in when entering the profession of teaching (Buell et al., 1999 cited in EPPI). This has been met by the expectations set by the TTA via the Qualifying to teach, the new standards and requirements for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) (TTA,2002).
B4L is a concept that has been developed through a review of effective behaviour management strategies. It has been identified that B4L is a result of multitude of influences and not merely the desire of a learner to misbehave and unwillingness to learn. It is important to identify the theoretical principles behind the way in which learners manifest themselves in terms of behaviour, as identified in the rationale for the EPPI systemic review of how theories explain learning behaviour in school context. Behaviour for learning (B4L) identifies the link between students social conduct and behaviour and the way in which they learn.
The schools policy clearly states high expectations of students, “We expect students to reflect this in their appearance, attitudes and behaviour. We know we are moulding the citizens of the future and will encourage them to care for one another, be open, fair, honest and just. We want them to have a sense of pride in being part of our school community.” (School Aims, Staff handbook).
Further to this the school s vision is to raise achievement by developing a culture where ‘learning is at the heart of the school community’. To achieve this vision the school identifies whole school priorities for 2010/2011 including improving behaviour and attendance. It also stated that the school will focus on incorporating SEAL practice in the classroom, which has been identified as an important key in developing learner’s emotional intelligence (Coleman, 1996) providing learners with the skill set to monitor and improve their behaviour independently.
It was clearly identified in the School Development Plan that Behaviour for learning needed to be addressed (appendix 1). This was further reinforced as a high priority area during staff meetings and subsequent correspondence from the Head Teacher (Appendix 1a), which focused on current issues in lessons and the need to improve B4L. Two key issues that arose were the use of mobile phones within lessons and consistency of sanctions (Appendix 1a). It is interesting to note that these both encompass the teacher and the learner. It is concerning to note that use of mobile phones within lessons is being flagged as a B4L issue and not a sign of disengagement. Understandably there is a close link between the quality of learning, teaching and behaviour, and therefore raises the question can behaviour be improved through improving the quality of learning & teaching? The school clearly identifies that there is a need to reinforce their school policies on behaviour for learning. Through initial observation it was interesting to note the level of behavioural issues occurring both in and out of lessons. It poses the question is this a school being pro-active in managing behaviour for learning or re-active to behaviour that had not been managed consistently? This study will focus on the schools current policy on behaviour for learning and how this is implemented on a daily basis. Through a review of the schools current policy and issues this study will hope to suggest future recommendations to improve behaviour for learning.
Recent national policy has moved away from a punitive system where students were punished for doing something wrong ‘reactive’ and are now working towards understanding what causes learners to be off task and display undesirable behaviour ‘pro-active’. With the recent development of special educational needs identification and provision it is no longer acceptable to respond in a punitive way. National policy now promotes the inclusion of a greater diversity of learners in schools irrespective of level of achievement or social behaviour (Department for Education & Employment (DfEE), 1999). It is important for schools to recognise this and develop strategies to promote B4L as over 20% of SEN provision are learners with social emotional and behavioural disorder (SEBD) (Department for Children, Schools & Families, 2008). SEBD learners by nature can display undesirable behaviour unless managed in a positive way, and would it not be deemed unacceptable from an education professional’s view for a learner predisposed to display poor behaviour as the result of a recognised disorder, to fall victim to punitive actions. It is therefore important for schools to have a well-structured B4L policy that coincides with the SEN policy. Communication between the SEN department and the rest of the school is also essential. (back up with research)