An effective behaviour system: Part 2: Behind the scenes

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The behaviour management I described in Part 1 is underpinned by an administration system and several other out-of-classroom supporters. These are absolutely crucial to the success of the system.

It would probably be helpful to have a diagram for this bit- but as I write these posts on my phone in the middle of the night while feeding my baby, that will have to remain an “area for development”- sorry! I hope my description is clear enough and welcome any questions.

The administration of the policy is incredibly strong. In fact it’s almost completely watertight. This creates the consistency and certainty of consequences that pupils need in order for consequences to be perceived by pupils as fair, and for them to be a strong disincentive. It also means there is almost no additional workload for teachers in applying the system. This is an important aspect as if teachers have too much to do, something will slip somewhere some of the time, even with the most conscientious teachers. The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

When a C4 is issued, the teacher fills out a short form that the pupil takes with them to the department room. The teacher only writes the date, time and pupil name on the form. While in the department room the pupil fills in a few more details like the lesson and their form. The pupil has to give the form to the department room teacher at the end of the lesson to sign, and then take it back to the class teacher. In this way it is like a receipt of the pupil’s whereabouts during that time. The teacher then takes the form to the behaviour administrator before the end of the day. The behaviour administrator (BA) is a member of staff employed solely to administer the behaviour system. I would conjecture that the school saves the equivalent of her salary in reduced vandalism throughout the year as a result of the policy but even if this were not the case the post is absolutely worth the money. The BA records the information about the C4: the pupil, teacher, department on her system, and phones and texts the parents to inform them of detention the following day.

If a pupil who has been given a C4 does not return with the form at the end of the lesson, then the teacher fills out a different form but with the same information as before, and takes it to the BA in the same way. The different form is a cue to the BA that she should check that the pupil did attend the department room, and if not then where did they go and what further sanctions (usually a C5) should be incurred.

When giving a C4 other the teacher fills out a C4 other short form with pupil name, teacher name, time and tick a box for the nature of the misdemeanour. The teacher takes the form to the BA, who processes the detention in the same way as for a C4 (low-level disruption).

When giving a C5 the teacher fills out two forms. One is for the pupil to take with them to the consequence room. The other form is sent with a reliable pupil to the BA, who phones the consequence room to expect the pupil. If the pupil does not arrive then the consequence room radio SLT who then look for the pupil. In not going where they are supposed to the pupil would incur an extra detention on top of that already incurred by receiving a C5.

The BA collates registers on who has attended their detentions. If a pupil is absent on the day of their detention then the BA puts them on the list for the following day and phones and texts home again. If the pupil is in school but fails to attend their detention they incur a C5 (a day in the consequence room) AND they still have to do the detention the next day. This process is repeated as long as is needed until the pupil does their consequence/s. There is no escape! If a pupil hasn’t done their consequence on the last day in July then they are on the list for the first day in September.

The consequence room
This is staffed by two full-time members of staff and we have an overflow room supervised by teachers on a timetabled basis. The consequence room staff coordinate with the BA to register attendance. If a pupil does not take themselves to the consequence room in the morning then a staff member goes and looks for them in lesson- but they have to do an extra detention for not taking responsibility and getting themselves there. They always know if they should be there as either they are doing the second part of their day’s worth in there and so were there the previous afternoon, or if they were absent or the C5 was issued right at the end of school the previous day then they have still had the phone call and text home. In the consequence room, pupils work in silence in booths from textbooks provided by departments.

“Department detentions” are run every night and hosted by a different department every night. A single department will host approximately once a fortnight, and rotate the supervision around teachers in the department. So as a member of a department of 6 I supervise detention approximately once every 12 weeks, or it could be as frequently as every 6 weeks if two rooms are used to accommodate more pupils. The name “department detention” is a bit misleading as they are for all pupils who got a C4 the previous day, regardless of what department it was. There is also SLT detention every night for detentions that have accompanied C5s.

The BA takes slips round to pupils during last lesson to remind them they have a detention. They are expected to take themselves to the detention at the end of school.

The BA sends out detention registers as whole school emails so there is never a case where a teacher is running a detention but doesn’t have a register. The register is completed by the teacher and returned to the BA, who then ascertains which non-attendees were absent from school that day and which were in school but did not attend their detention. The former are moved onto the list for the next day. The latter go on to the list for the next day’s detentions AND the list for the consequence room. Parents are phoned and texted.

In detention, students sit in silence and copy out the pupil code of conduct.

So every consequence has a paper record handed to the BA, who communicates the consequences to parents and pupils. All missed consequences are centrally recorded and escalated.

In Chip and Dan Heath’s book Switch, they characterise human behaviour as being like a Rider perched on top of an Elephant. In order to change human behaviour, we must direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path. The Rider represents our rational mind, the Elephant our emotions, and the Path the environment around us. The Rider directs the elephant because he holds the reins but his control is precarious because he is so small compared to the elephant. If the elephant decides it wants to go left then the Rider probably won’t be able to make it go right. The Path provides an obvious path for the elephant to take: it is unlikely to choose to walk through dense trees when there is a clear path available. The authors propose that changing human behaviour is most effective when we “direct the Rider, motivate the Elephant, and shape the Path”. Our system directs the rider with clear steps for every eventuality. The path is shaped by the fact that each step is very easy and very quick. We motivate the elephant by looking after the culture. I’ll wr

After our system had been in place for a few months we could see there was a group of pupils who were constantly in the consequence room. Some were doing things on purpose because they preferred being in there to lessons. These pupils typically struggle with interactions with their peers and would rather avoid them. Other pupils seemed to be struggling more with the higher expectations in lesson and these pupils were often sent home for poor behaviour in the consequence room. We now have a team of mentors, drawn from TAs and other support staff, who are assigned around four of these pupils each. Every week the mentors have a one-to-one meeting with each of their mentees to check-in, discuss any consequences incurred that week, and give encouragement. I haven’t seen any data yet to show if it’s working but it seems like a good idea.

The pastoral team helps pupils if they are having problems. Any member of staff can email or talk to them about a pupil who they think is having a problem. Pastoral staff talk to the pupil and may issue a ”

Where a pupil is judged to have SEN that make it difficult to cope with the policy, they are issued with a “Think and Return” card. Teachers still apply C1 and C2, but when they get to C3 they invite the pupil to use their think and return card. If they choose to do so, this allows the pupil to go to a SEN/nurture type room for a maximum of 10 minutes after which they must return to the lesson. The consequences still apply when they return, ie if they were on a C3 but create low-level disruption again they will incur a C4. If they don’t return within 10 minutes we send a C5 form. These pupils receive C4 others and C5s in the same way as other pupils.

SLT member responsible for behaviour
One member of SLT oversees this whole system. Some of the things  she does include:

  • Learning walks to check teachers are applying the system correctly
  • Training for staff 
  • Answering questions- there are a lot of these and there needs to be if staff are to understand and apply the system correctly. 
  • Dealing with parents if they challenge the system
  • Dealing with fixed-term exclusions (C6 and 7, depending on duration) 
  • Creating and sustaining the culture needed- staff need to feel safe to ask questions, unthreatened by learning walks, and motivated to apply the system every single time
  • Line managing the system staff: the BA and consequence room staff, especially the paper trail
  • Dropping in to detentions and the consequence room for monitoring
  • Looking for patterns and addressing them, for example the mentoring system that has been introduced 

All of these components together mean that as long as teachers pick up on the behaviours and fill out the very quick forms, then pupils will never slip through the net. No pupil is exempt from the policy, but we provide additional support to those who need it. The system isn’t simple, but it’s clear and it’s well designed, and it works very well. Please do ask questions below, and watch out for my next post on our culture for behaviour. 


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