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Be positive about pupils

For Denise Spence the beauty of "positive reinforcement" at Hyde technology school is that it rewards good behaviour and challenges bad behaviour.

The headteacher of the 950-pupil Cheshire school oversaw a pilot project last year and was so impressed that this September the scheme is now school-wide.

Children are given five choices that rest on: respect; learning; safety; movement; and co-operation. However, with choice come sanctions as well as rewards.

These include a "smiley and sad board" that notes pupils who have been on-task and those who have not. At the next level are detentions of varying length.

She said: "We find that even the 'naughty' kids like to be praised. If they realise they can get attention from being good as well as bad, that has to be positive. If kids who usually forget actually remember to bring in pens, then a thank you will reinforce that behaviour."

Ms Spence said, however, that positive reinforcement can take a while for teachers to get used to. She said: "For the more experienced teachers this represents quite a culture change: we were told to pick up on bad behaviour in our training. But sometimes you have to realise that rather than pointing out bad behaviour, we need to reinforce good behaviour.

"It really does work but it takes time to make sure this becomes second nature for some teachers."

Positive reinforcement is used as part of a whole package called Behaviour for Learning which aims to tackle low-level classroom disruption.

"It is the kind of stuff that wears teachers down, such as children arriving late and so on," Ms Spence said.

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