What was your school like before relational practice?
As our school has grown, we have moved from being a primary school to an all-through school. Our previous behaviour policy was based around the primary behaviour work done by ***** ****** – which included pupil’s having ‘golden time’ removed at the end of the week based on their behaviour.
What triggered the change?
A member of the leadership team had read ‘When the adults change’ and had suggested changes to policy. At the same time, our Regional Office organised a webinar with Paul for our schools. Following on from this, a member of the leadership team attended the online course. Discussions following all of this allowed us to see what type of school we what to be and we decided to review our policy.
What were the expectations/hopes?
We have a school where behaviour is already amazing. We wanted a policy that focused on what matters and re-affirmed the positive relationships that develop in school. We wanted pupils to see that every member of staff was important and would tackle poor behaviour – and remove what was seen as a hierarchy of teachers they have to behave for.
What happened – what have you done, how did it pan out?
We have changed our policy and trained staff at the start of the year. We have re-visited the policy and checked in on how it’s going at the start of each term. Staff have been taking more responsibility for their own behaviour outcomes and the language in school has shifted to knowing that we support our pupil’s behaviour and that as staff, we have to be regulated to deal with it.
What was easy, what was hard?
Leaders have been the biggest challenge – and reminding them to support teachers rather than take over. Having three rules has been the easiest part – as staff have just three things to constant refer to: Safe, Happy, Learning.
Where are you now?
In my office. It’s quite nice. I have two alpaca teddys watching me work along with a Yoda and a seal wearing a life jacket. But the next step in our plan is to upskill our support staff so that they could potentially meet with parents and see an incident all the way through themselves.
What advice would they give to others?
We are lucky enough to have a school that has amazing behaviour in the main. Our shift of policy was to help to grow and develop relationships further. Firstly, to schools considering a move – I’d ask them to really reflect on their current policy and how much good it does. How can low-level incidents (like lack of homework or not bringing a pencil) be reasons to not allow children to attend events like a prom? How can punishments for younger children ever benefit when they are learning and testing boundaries and need to be educated? With regards to making a shift, we had to reinforce to our staff that relational behaviour did not mean ‘soft’. We have a clear list of consequences hidden behind our three school rules – to ensure that everyone is treated fairly. So although one of our rules is ‘safe’, we know there is a sliding scale of what breaking this looks like, and we have realistic proportionate responses. Being fair is key in our school. Email templates allow teachers to edit well-thought-out scripts rather than starting from scratch when contacting parents. Everyone gets the same message about what’s important in our school. Keep an eye out for those teachers who want their own classroom rules. Consistency across the whole school is key.