What was your school like before relational practice?

2016-2017 – Number of exclusions – 87
Number of openings lost (half days) 303

A high number of behaviour referrals
2018-2019 (Aug-March) 2250 referrals.

Before we embraced relational practice as a whole school approach, we had pockets of this going on but it was not consistent or explicit. We had very high levels of behaviour referrals and exclusions

What triggered the change?

Many things: a new headteacher (me!), concern from many staff that the existing approach was not working and that we were the highest excluding school in our local authority.

Policy from the Scottish Government and by extension the local authority also supported this change of practice, in particular the desire for Glasgow to be a nurturing city and the policy document Included, Engaged and Involved. (Scottish Government 2017) and the National Improvement Framework.

What were the expectations/hopes?

We wanted to create an inclusive school where excellent relationships would be the foundation of academic, individual and social change.
Within this was a desire to include and engage all of our young people.

At an operational level, we wanted to create better behaviour, have fewer behaviour referrals, no detention, radically fewer exclusions and agency from all stakeholders.

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

Solid Values – Respect, Responsibility, Ambition.

Clear school rules.

Key Phrases We Use – ‘I’ve noticed that…’ ‘It’s our rule about…’ ‘I need you to…’ ‘Thank you’ instead of ‘please’.

Clear corridor code
Visible adult consistencies

  • Meet and Greet
  • Ready to learn routine
  • First attention to best behaviour
  • End and send

Stepped sanctions

  • Private reminder
  • Reinforced reminder
  • Time out and last chance
  • Remove and regroup
  • Repair and move on

What was easy, what was hard?

In some ways, it was easy to change because there was a desire for change from many people. The majority of staff embraced the professional learning that we did over a couple of school sessions: When the AdultsChange, Nurture Principles, All Behaviour Is Communication training and Restorative Approaches. We took our time and made sure that everyone was involved in changing practice and agreeing policy.

It was challenging to make the change because everyone is at different stages in their practice and readiness for change. The pandemic also created some setbacks because it was hard to establish our new practice during session 2019-2020 when young people were not here.

Where are you now?

Exclusions drastically reduced.
2022-2023. 1 exclusion.

Number of openings lost (half days) 2

Huge reduction in behaviour referrals.
2022-2023 (Aug to March) 402 referrals

How was this achieved –
Nurturing Principles
ACE Awareness,
Trauma Informed Practice,
When The Adults Change,
Restorative Approaches and Practice,
Partnership working (Our MATES Team),
Equity and Inclusion,
Policy Context – Included, Engaged and Involved

What advice would they give to others?

Be clear about your values and your mission.

Include everyone.

You will never be done – constant stewardship and leadership are required.

Any other comments:

The When the Adults Change approach has had a significant, positive impact on how we work and has led to further research and exploration of relational practice, inclusion and the need for us to get it right for every single child.

It’s all about relationships!