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The problem

I'm trying out a new behaviour system: three strikes and you get a detention. If you are goodwell-behaved, you get a credit - the standard school reward. However, at parents' evening, I talked to a girl in Year 9 (S2) and her parents about this and she suggested that credit rewards were unappealing because students in this class are seen as the "cool kids". I asked her: "What would be a better reward, sweets?" My subject (MFL) is optional at key stage 4 (senior phase), so 98 per cent of my students in Year 9 will not be carrying on, but my dilemma is, do I really have to resort to sweets in order for my Year 9s to behave for the next seven months? I've seen it work for another teacher. Help.

What you said

She didn't say sweets, you did. There are lots of things you could do: good behaviour equals a raffle entry for an end-of-term draw (better behaved equals more tickets and more chances to win). Praise postcards home can work wonders for children who are regularly told off.


I divide my board into positive and negative. I put the students' initials under each heading, depending on their behaviour. They can't be on both boards at same time. Positive behaviour means a merit circle around the initials and a positive referral. A tick on the board means their name goes into the raffle box. Negative behaviour means a warning circle around the initials and a negative referral. Crossing through a name means removal from the lesson and detention.


The expert view

Stay away from the sweets, and not just for dental reasons. Rewards like that will have little impact and will undermine your authority. If you create a link between extrinsic rewards and classwork, then it teaches them that sweets are the only reason to behave. And eventually the sweets will lose their value. Keep form with boundaries and sanctions - the fast track to behaviour modification. The best rewards are verbal, and sincere and proportionate to the achievement. The best way to get this class in shape is to focus on making sure they know that non-compliance will result in something they do not want, such as detention.

Tom Bennett's latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum.

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