Spire Junior School in Chesterfield is situated in an area of high deprivation (amongst the top 5 % of areas for crime deprivation and the top 1% for income deprivation, with 55% of children eligible for Free School Meals). And found themselves facing behavioural challenges including students walking out of class, displaying disrespect towards staff, and even incidents of physical violence.
Under the leadership of dedicated educators and inspired by the principles outlined in Paul Dix’s book “When Adults Change, Everything Changes,” Spire Junior School embarked on a transformative journey towards relational practice.
The message from “When Adults Change, Everything Changes” resonated deeply with the school’s leadership and staff and transformed their approach to behaviour management.
“We hoped that we could create a calm school built upon kindness and positive relationships.”
Their transformative journey began with a commitment to consistent, calm adult behaviour.
The staff built their behaviour policy around the principles of When the Adults Change.
Key components included positive noticing, consistent routines, scripts for difficult interventions, and restorative follow-up. A no-shouting policy was introduced, emphasizing the importance of kindness and positive relationships.
The staff’s commitment to celebrating achievements and building emotional currency with students and parents became evident through weekly postcards and positive phone calls. And their inclusive approach was reflected in their efforts to support children’s social and emotional skills. They are proud to report they have taken many children excluded from other settings, while never having to exclude a child themselves.
The journey has not been without its challenges. However, the rewards outweighed the difficulties, as the school’s ethos of kindness proved capable of overcoming barriers. Perseverance is key.
In April 2022, 6 years into their transformative journey of embedding relational practice into their ethos, Spire Junior School received the following feedback at the conclusion of a 2-day inspection:
“This is a school built on relationships… with practice that should be shared”.