Creating a School Behaviour Management Policy
Behaviour is one of the main challenges that schools face. A lack of knowledge about strategies that really work – as well as a lack of consistency in approach across whole schools – can lead to extreme difficulty in handling challenging behaviour. In fact, the Department for Education noted that behaviour is a major reason for teachers to leave the profession (2019).
A solution to this problem is to create an effective, comprehensive behaviour management policy. In this article, we will explain what a school behaviour management policy is, discuss its importance, and provide guidance on how to create or update one in your setting.
What Is a School Behaviour Management Policy?
A school behaviour management policy (also known simply as a ‘behaviour policy’) is a document created by headteachers, senior leaders, proprietors, and governing bodies which:
- Clearly explains the standard of behaviour expected of pupils at the school (the school rules).
- Sets out how school staff should handle behaviour incidents, including the sanctions and consequences which will be issued, when, and by whom. The policy might also give details about when reasonable force could be used, the powers staff have to discipline students, and how incidents involving students outside school premises will be handled. It must reflect the governing body’s statements on these issues.
- Sets out which types of rewards will be issued and when, as well as other measures that the school will use to promote good behaviour, self-discipline, and respect.
- Takes safeguarding and the welfare of children into account at all times. Particular clarification should also be given on the school’s anti-bullying strategy and policy, approach to staff members accused of misconduct, and plans to work with other local agencies to assess pupils’ behaviour needs (where necessary).
- Aims to enable pupils to be healthy and safe, behave appropriately, and be able to enjoy and achieve their full potential in their learning.
It is mandatory for maintained and independent schools – and academies – to have behaviour policies. Maintained schools must publish their policies on their school websites, and it is good practice for independent schools and academies to do so as well. Behaviour policies must be made known to staff, parents, and pupils at least once a year, in writing. See the government guidance here for more information.
All school staff (as well as pupils and parents/carers) are expected to comply with the school’s behaviour policy in order to make it effective. The headteacher is ultimately responsible for the policy, but schools should also put a dedicated coordinator in place, whose responsibility it is to provide guidance and support to staff on behaviour issues, as well as regularly reviewing and updating the behaviour policy.
Why Do Schools Have Behaviour Policies and Procedures?
The main motivations behind creating behaviour policies are:
- Fulfilling legal requirements.
- Promoting positive behaviour, empathy, respect, self-esteem, self-discipline, and awareness of appropriate behaviour that sets children up for later life. Read our article ‘How to Teach Children About Healthy Relationships’ for more information about this.
- Clearly setting out the standards of expected behaviour and the sanctions or consequences that may result.
- Ensuring a safe, secure, and effective learning environment.
- Ensuring that incidents are always dealt with fairly, consistently, and proportionately.
- Acting as sources of support for staff, pupils, and parents – they know that incidents will always be acted upon and handled fairly, and that school management will uphold the decisions detailed in the policy. This promotes trust and wellbeing.
- Creating a cornerstone for other policies that the school has, such as bullying, online safety, and acceptable use policies.
By making the rules and consequences clear and well-known to all those involved with the school, the likelihood of incidents of challenging behaviour – or poor handling of them – is reduced.
However, many teachers are not made aware of the importance of following their school’s behaviour policy at all times. A survey by TeacherTapp in 2021 showed that one third of teachers deviated from the behaviour policy in one day alone, primarily for reasons of avoiding conflict, or being too busy to enforce sanctions. As a result, it’s critical that schools give their staff training that explains why the behaviour policy is necessary and equips them to put it in place.
Need Challenging Behaviour Training?
Our Challenging Behaviour training course is recommended for professionals who want to have a better understanding of how to respond to the behaviour of the children and young people that they work with. It emphasises the importance of the consistent whole-school approach when proactively preventing behaviour incidents, as well as when responding to them and putting support in place. Visit our course library to have a look at this and our other available training courses.
How to Create a School Behaviour Management Policy
Creating a school behaviour management policy requires discussions between the headteacher, senior leaders, proprietors, and governing bodies. You could also choose to involve parents and students, giving them a survey to find out their opinions.
It’s important that everyone agrees on the standards of behaviour that the school expects, and the best way to enforce these expectations. This will form the basis of your policy.
Sections to Include in a Behaviour Policy
It is recommended that behaviour policies have sections as follows:
School Ethos and Behaviour Statement
Roles and Responsibilities
Standards of Behaviour
Teaching of Behaviour
You may wish to mention – so that pupils, parents, and carers are aware – that the school legally has the power to give detention outside of school hours, perform searches and confiscate inappropriate items from students, and discipline pupils for misbehaving outside of the school premises. Discuss whether the school intends and to use these powers or not (and when it would be appropriate to do so), as well as the protection the law affords to staff when intervening in this way. Remember that sanctions should take into account the pupil’s age, any SEND they have, and any religious requirements.
Classroom Management Strategies for Teaching Staff
Safeguarding and Welfare
Staff Development and Support
Student Support Systems
Liaison With Parents/Carers
Raising Awareness of the Policy
This list is not exhaustive, but covers key points that you should discuss in your policy. You might feel that other additional sections are relevant to your school, and these should be written into your policy so that it reflects your school’s ethos.
What Makes a Behaviour Policy Effective?
The most effective behaviour policies are those that are tailored to your school, simple, and clear, with no room for misinterpretation. You will need to be as specific as possible. You cannot expect staff and students to have the same understanding of ‘good behaviour’ as you – if you cite low-level disruption as a reason to give students a warning, you need to define what low-level disruption is so that this sanction is given out consistently. Is tapping a pen on the table low-level disruption? What about shouting out an answer without putting their hand up? What about talking in a low voice whilst getting on with their work – is this permitted, or should students sit in silence while they’re working?
The next steps in making your policy effective are making it known and having strong leadership to enforce it. All staff, pupils, parents, and carers should be reminded of the behaviour policy regularly – not only that it exists, but also the content within it. It is a good idea to give them a booklet about the policy, enclosing a form for them to sign that says they will adhere to it. Senior leaders within the school should then check that it is being consistently applied, making sure to deal with any issues or queries as soon as they come up. This is necessary because, as we mentioned above, consistency is key to handling challenging behaviour in schools.
Finally, effective behaviour policies should be reviewed at regular intervals to ensure they’re still relevant and reflective of topical issues. At the very least, reviews should take place annually, with ad-hoc reviews or updates when the need arises.
Behaviour management policies are a legal requirement for all schools, and an opportunity to set out the standards of behaviour you expect, the sanctions and consequences that result from certain behaviour, and the support that students and staff will be given. It’s important to ensure that your policy is comprehensive and well-written – we hope that this article is helpful in that regard.
- Challenging Behaviour Training
- How to Deal with Challenging Behaviour in the Classroom
- ABC Chart for Challenging Behaviour: Free Template