About your school – What did the school look like before relational practice?

Punitive approaches; ‘Detentions’ with no impact – same children in detention for same reasons over and over again. Behaviour sanctions involved children sitting in silence to ‘reflect’ on behaviour.

Little positive communication to parents.


Inconsistent sanctions.

Staff passing responsibility to senior staff for minor misdemeanours – children being sent out of lessons.

Behaviour logs on paper – not well recorded and no analysis completed.

What triggered the change?

New leadership team wanted to drive the change to a more pastoral approach. A commitment to improving provision for SEND and vulnerable children.

As a Catholic school, this is our mission.

Senior staff read ‘When Adults Change…’ and were determined to make it happen for our children. We accessed Trauma Informed training for our staff to support some post-looked-after children (through SCAYT).

What were the expectations/hopes?

Staff to be trauma-informed and aware of the biology/science/theories behind behaviour and restorative approaches e.g. conflict spiral, de-escalation etc.
Staff to model calm responses to difficult behaviours.
Develop a script to make approaches consistent.
Children who learn to recognise own emotions/triggers and regulate.
Improved relationships.
Praise and rewards.
Positive communication with parents.
Records of behaviour which were purposeful.

What happened – what have you done, how did it pan out?

New policy Sept 2021 – First full year for children after Covid.

Policy & rationale presented to staff, approaches modelled by SLT every day!

New reward systems and weekly awards linked to Classdojo so positives can be shared at home.

Behaviour charter in place – Class display and reminders around school.

Shared with parents/children and continue to do so every day.

What was easy, what was hard?

Staff and parents commented on the smooth start to the year and the behaviour of the children around school. Parents could see the impact. SLT on the gate every morning and wished good morning to every child by name. Two years on, the parents, staff and children all greet each other in this way and with a smile. This simplest of changes has had a huge impact on the start of the day.

The constant and consistent reminders and positive praise is a challenge due to it being so time-consuming but definitely worth it, to be at the gate, in the corridors, in the lunch hall saying, ‘Thank you for walking, thank you for holding the door, thank you for looking so smart today,
great learning….’

Hard part was the reluctance of some staff to use restorative approaches – think it is a ‘soft’ approach to behaviour management. Staff not following procedures/scripts is a challenge.

Where are you now?

More staff are on board with the approach and can see the benefits and impact. Where there are children with additional needs who are regularly displaying challenging behaviours, some staff still struggle to see the benefits of the approach. Not all staff follow the policy/procedures and need support to do this. Getting the balance of sanction and pastoral care is a challenge for some staff.

We have a behaviour lead who is on the NPQ for behaviour. We analyse patterns in behaviour and use Charter Support Plans when behaviour is a concern. Directing staff to learn more about the approach has helped as they thought SLT were scared to discipline children and come up with this approach!

Policy has always been linked with Catholic values but we have had training on Catholic Social Teaching which we now link in. During recruitment of new staff, I state our approaches clearly so that potential candidates can choose if we are right for them. Questions are based around behaviour to enable me to see if the candidate would be on board.

What advice would they give to others?

State the ‘WHY?’ clearly and regularly to remind everyone why you use this approach, why you have those particular procedures etc. Model, model, model every day – on the gate, in the corridor, to the children/staff/parents etc.

Don’t expect overnight success!

Any other comments:

We have come a long way in a few years and I am proud that we had Ofsted in September who said, ‘Pupils’ behaviour is mostly positive and sensible, reflecting leaders’ high standards. Pupils were proud to tell inspectors about the school’s behaviour charter, which they recited with

‘Pupils’ efforts, as well as their achievements, are recognised by leaders and staff. This includes through the school’s house point system. Pupils are also taught about the importance of respect. They are accepting of each other’s differences.

Pupils said, ‘You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but you have to be polite.’