Banff Academy, faced numerous challenges, including high behaviour referrals, uncertain leadership and a disengaged learning environment, before the appointment of Alan Horberry as Headteacher in September 2017. 

An inspection in February 2018 highlighted the urgent need to improve behaviour and relationships in the lower school grades. Determined to address these issues, the school’s Senior Leadership team delved into extensive research on behavioural strategies and came across “When the Adults Change, Everything Changes” literature. This discovery ignited their enthusiasm and sparked a whole-school initiative centred around building positive relationships.

With the aim of creating a relational practice school, the Leadership Team embarked on a journey of shared vision and professional learning. Each staff member was provided a copy of “When the Adults Change, Everything Changes”, and participated in extensive professional learning for implementing the principles of relational practice. 

Initiatives such as Hot Chocolate Fridays, which serves as a celebration of students’ achievements were implemented and Banff Academy Sketchnote was created which is a visual graphic displayed prominently in all learning areas, that serves as a visual reminder of the school’s commitment to positive relational practice.

Staff report that the number of negative behavioural referrals has dramatically decreased, while the weekly Hot Chocolate nominations have substantially increased. 

“The real investment was for the heart and minds of our staff and young people and ensure that we changed practice NOT simply policy. Our professional learning as a learning community ensures that every decision we make as a school puts our students at the centre of all we do.”

Undoubtedly, the journey to embed relational practice at Banff Academy has presented its fair share of challenges. However, the investment of resources, time, and most importantly, the dedication of both staff and students, has laid the foundation for a new and more positive school culture centred around relationships, making them an exemplary When the Adults Change partner school.