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"Improving Behaviour in School" guidance report by the Education Endowment Foundation

New guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation  'Improving Behaviour in School' argues that bullying can be reduced through a number of approaches, such as:

  • Effective classroom management

  • Children and young people being influenced by their peer networks and motivated by social justice 

  • Positive teacher-pupil relationships, using Carol Dweck's research on "growth mindsets".

And that these levers can be more powerful than sanction based approaches; ABA's Olivia Foster discusses this in more detail below.

The report found that there is currently a lack of evidence on how effective ‘zero tolerance’ policies, which are aimed at creating a strict and clear whole-school approach to discipline, actually are in practice. Evidence suggests that understanding individual pupils, training teachers in classroom management, and having a consistent approach across the school supports better behaviour.

Anti-bullying programmes were often effective at reducing bullying, with an average reduction in bullying of 20-23% after implementing a programme (pg. 14 of EEF report, referencing "Campbell Collaboration" Ttofi and Farrington 2009). Successful programmes tended to be more intensive and implemented over an extended period - they have been seen to have the following factors:

  • Whole-school anti-bullying policy
  • Classroom rules: often set collaboratively by the class
  • School conferences: assemblies to introduce the initiative and inform pupils about bullying ­
  • Cooperative group work: school staff cooperating to work with children who bully and victims of bullying
  • Information for parents: this could include a manual to structure a teacher’s conversation or a leaflet for parents to digest at home
  • Improved playground supervision
  • Classroom management
  • Disciplinary methods: punitive measures such as being sent to the Headteacher or being deprived of privileges
  • Teacher training: training taking place over more than 4 days and lasting 10 hours or more was most effective
  • Parent training/meetings: educational events for parents relating specifically to bullying

According to the report, research has shown that initiatives where schools limited mobile phone use have proven successful in improving behaviour, reducing bullying, and helping pupils to focus. However, this cannot be directly linked to the reduction in technology but may be because of well implemented policies alongside it.

The report states that many teenagers are more influenced by their peer networks than by the prospect of sanction based approaches. And teaching children skills such as collaboration and self-improvement can reduce bullying and empower bystanders to stand up to bullying that they witness.

Teachers could also explore what is termed as a “growth mindset” instead of a “fixed mindset”, whereby they:

  • truly believe that all students will achieve and improve;
  • praise students’ effort rather than the person, the end piece of work or results (‘You have worked so hard on this’; ‘You’re persevering brilliantly through tough new concepts’); and
  • avoid fixed mindset labelling that praises intelligence or talent (‘You’re so clever’; ‘You’re so talented’).

Despite this approach being effective and rooted in cognitive psychology, Carol Dweck's research (as cited in the report) states that it can be particularly difficult to implement. School leaders should be aware that light-touch training in a growth mindset approach is unlikely to be effective on its own.

The report has been designed to support teachers and senior leaders in schools to make decisions surrounding behaviour strategies, and puts forward recommendations for improving behaviour in schools. These recommendations are:

  • Know and understand your pupils and their influences

  • Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour

  • Use classroom management strategies to support food classroom behaviour

  • Use simple approaches as part of your regular routine

  • Use targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in school.

​Click here to read more

20 Jun 2019