Tom Bennett reflects on the announcement of the Behaviour Working Group – and the creation of a new one after that....
Interesting times. I’ve already been asked to lead a working group looking into behaviour management in ITT, with a view to making recommendations for reform. The group was formally announced today, and I’m genuinely thrilled to be working with such a fantastically talented group of people. They represent an enormous range of sectors and approaches, and I look forward to our discussions, evidence gathering and analysis about what teachers need to know in order to start their careers with the tools they need, and the nous to appreciate what they need to develop. The Avengers, assembled, are:
- John D’Abbro, head of the New Rush Hall Group, an organisation that works with children with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties;
- John Tomsett, headteacher of Huntingdon School, a founding member of the Headteachers’ Roundtable and prominent online blogger;
- Damien MacBeath, headteacher of the ‘outstanding’-rated ARK Conway Primary Academy in London;
- Edward Vainker, principal of the ‘outstanding’-rated Reach Academy Feltham;
- Professor Sam Twiselton, director of the Sheffield Institute of Education and key member of Sir Andrew Carter’s review of initial teacher training;
- Jacinta Barnard, child behaviour consultant;
- Jonathan Molver, headteacher of the ‘outstanding’-rated King Solomon Academy in London; and
- Max Heimendorf, founding headteacher of King Solomon Academy Secondary.
But, of course, initial teacher training is only one part of creating great learning behaviour in schools, so I’m even more bloody delighted that I’ve been asked to lead a second team (after this one has reported) looking into broader issues that affect how pupils behave – or don't – at school. This project is barely at phase zero right now, so the exact brief is still being defined, as well as methodology and intended outcomes. But it could potentially look at issues like leadership, school culture, CPD, tech, etc. The papers are heavy with the tech angle right now, and while that’s very probably something I’ll investigate, it certainly isn’t the focus of the project. I’ll blog here as soon as I know more about the shape and scale of what we need to do, but safe to say this is a busman's holiday for me. Good behaviour in classrooms and corridors is a sacred quest of mine, and has been since the day I started in teaching.
So relax: I can’t ban anything, despite some of the more enthusiastic headlines, nor do I think the groups are likely to recommend anything like that. What we will do is collate and recommend the best techniques from the best schools we can find in as many sectors and contexts as possible. We’ll attempt to find out what might be universal to most circumstances, and where circumstances become important.
SKYNET becomes aware
This may shock you, but I don’t think mobile phones should be banned from school. Or iPads from the classroom. It won’t shock you if you have the wit to read behind the headlines. If you missed it, you can read what I really think about technology in the classroom by reading my TES blog from a couple of weeks back.
I've been given a fantastic opportunity to look at how we can improve ITT with reference to behaviour-management training. I think it's a long time coming, and I'm delighted we're finally talking about it explicitly, rather than pretending it isn't an issue. Here's hoping that, as a teaching community, we can do some collective good.