Personalised approaches can improve disruptive pupil behaviour – report

Teachers greeting individual students personally at the door of a classroom could help improve disruptive behaviour, a report suggests.

Guidance from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) indicates personalised approaches, like daily report cards, can also have a positive impact.

The report reviews the best available evidence and makes six recommendations for improving behaviour.

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It also finds there is a lack of evidence on the impact of zero tolerance policies which aim to create a strict and clear whole-school approach to discipline.

According to the EEF, under such policies pupils will typically automatically receive detentions for a range of misbehaviours such as being late, forgetting homework or using rude language.

The report finds there is little evidence schoolchildren today behave any worse than previous generations.

It says most pupils in the majority of lessons are well behaved, but when problem behaviour does occur, it can have a significant impact on learning outcomes and teacher well-being.

Sir Kevan Collins, EEF chief executive, said: “Despite most pupils in most lessons behaving well, misbehaviour is an issue that has challenged schools for generations.

“It can have a lasting impact on pupils’ learning and teacher well-being.

“Today’s guidance report reviews the best available evidence to offer schools and teachers six recommendations for improving behaviour.

“Most of the report focuses on preventing poor behaviour, but it also includes advice on dealing with it when it happens.

“Today’s report shows how consistent approaches to behaviour can lead to strong relationships between teachers and students and form the foundations for learning.”

One recommendation is that schools use simple approaches, such as teachers taking the time to greet each pupil personally at the door of the classroom.

Another strategy with good evidence behind it is offering free, universal breakfast clubs before school starts, which has been found to prepare pupils well for learning, the EEF says.

Other suggestions focus on teaching learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour and using targeted approaches to meet the needs of individual students.

The guidance is compiled using information from consultations with teachers, academics and other experts, reviews of the best available evidence regarding behaviour in schools.

This was international evidence on three areas relating to behaviour: models for why children and young people misbehave in schools, evidence about classroom-based approaches to behaviour and evidence about school-wide approaches to behaviour.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The EEF’s measured and evidence-based approach to behaviour is extremely welcome because there’s a lot that’s been said on this matter that is neither accurate nor helpful to pupils.

“It is important to see here that there is little evidence that today’s pupils behave any worse than previous generations.

“Good behaviour is important for effective learning to take place; classroom disruption can be very problematic.

“But for many children and young people, their behaviour is a way of communicating that something isn’t right.

“It is vital that we don’t look at ‘bad’ behaviour in isolation and take too simplistic an approach in tackling it.”