What was your school like before relational practice?

  • A traditional and rigid approach to managing behaviour
  • Inconsistent approach from teachers
  • Too much focus on the negative behaviours
  • Lack of positivity from staff and students.
  • Shouting and calling students out in public.
  • Ineffective rewards system
  • Teachers calling out for clarity and support in dealing with behaviour
  • Limited evidence of strong/positive student-teacher relationships
  • Students not feeling respected, listened to and valued.

As the new Principal put it when she joined in August 2023 – “I am not feeling the love”

What triggered the change?

  • A change in educational philosophies and mindset
  • SLT looking at the research, evidence and case studies
  • Book Club – discussing both books
  • The desire to improve the all-round education we provide our students
  • Feedback from students, staff and parents
  • Concerns about student well-being

What were the expectations/hopes?

  • To make the school a happier place for students and staff
  • To cultivate a positive school environment
  • Improve school culture
  • To improve student well-being and behaviour
  • To strengthen student-staff relationships
  • Enhance student engagement and academic performance

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

  • Our book club for staff, which takes place every Tuesday after school, has facilitated meaningful discussions and professional growth. We started with “When the Adults Change” and recently transitioned to our second book, “After the Adults Change.” The insights gained from these books have profoundly impacted our teachers and the school’s overall culture.
  • One of the most significant outcomes has been the complete rewriting of our behaviour for learning policy. Drawing inspiration from the book, we have incorporated strategies and techniques that promote positive behavioural changes in our students. This has created a better, more positive environment for staff and students.
  • In addition to the policy changes, we organised a highly successful Positive Noticing Day. This initiative allowed us to recognise and celebrate our students and teachers’ positive behaviours and efforts. The feedback from staff, students and parents has been overwhelmingly positive, further reinforcing the positive changes in our school.
  • Teachers meet and greet children at the door as they welcome them into their classrooms.
    Furthermore, the impact of these changes extends beyond the classroom. Our assemblies and staff training sessions have incorporated elements from the book, ensuring the entire school community is aligned in creating a positive and nurturing environment for our students.

What was easy, what was hard?

  • Changing school culture that has been rooted in traditional disciplinary approaches has been challenging. The book club has been the main driver here. Having a group of passionate teachers attending every week, buying into what we are trying to achieve, has helped shift mindsets and overcome resistance to change among teachers.
  • Sustaining and embedding this over the long term is also a part of the challenge. It requires ongoing commitment from school leaders, staff, and the whole school community. Consistency in implementation across different grade levels, classrooms, and staff members can also be a challenge, as it relies on collective effort and alignment.

Where are you now?

  • Our school is firmly rooted in Paul Dix’s ideas, and his concepts have become integral to the school culture. We have implemented recognition boards to acknowledge students who demonstrate positive behaviour consistently, fostering a sense of pride and motivation among our students.
  • Overall, the book club has been a transformative experience for our school. The insights gained from”When the Adults Change” and “After the Adults Change” have influenced our behaviour for learning policy and fostered a culture of positivity and growth among our staff and students.

What advice would they give to others?

  • Start with a shared vision
  • Set up a book club
  • Incorporate WTAC into PD and staff training
  • Tailor school approaches to behaviour to the context of the school
  • Whole school approach
  • Celebrate success and share stories