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Guidance on behaviour points to vital role of parents

It takes a village to raise a child, the old saying goes - and now Scottish schools are being asked to apply that same principle to students' behaviour.

New national guidance on behaviour underlines the crucial role that parents, and the communities around them, play in improving behaviour at school.

"It's vital that schools engage directly with parents and foster a positive environment where parents are encouraged to work in partnership to ensure where possible a consistent message between the home and school environment," states the document, Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour.

Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders Scotland and part of an advisory group that fed into the new guidance, gave his take on the headline message: "It emphasises the importance of partnerships in all of this, at every level - in terms of schools working with parents and students, and within communities."

The guidance also shows how the benefits are reciprocated, with good behaviour in schools rippling out into the communities around them.

"Research demonstrates that investing time and resources into improving relationships and behaviour in establishments leads to positive outcomes around inclusion, engagement and achievement in the short term, and community safety and cohesion in the longer term," it states.

The guidance is generally upbeat, stressing that behaviour on the whole has been steadily improving, a view with which Mr Cunningham concurred: "The overall message is positive."

But problems lie ahead, around the proliferation of mobile technology and cuts to support staff.

Guidance is to be produced on "safe and mobile technology in schools", with the Scottish government setting up a working group to address the issue, after last year's Behaviour in Scottish Schools survey revealed an increase in abusive use of mobiles.

Mr Cunningham agreed that this was "a growing issue", but care had to be taken that, in attempting to control abusive use, opportunities for learning afforded by new technology were not diminished.

The guidance also recapped on the observation in last year's survey that support staff tended to have a far less rosy view of behaviour than headteachers and teachers.

Mr Cunningham is concerned that, with last month's council budgets laying bare the vulnerability of support staff to cutbacks, there could be serious knock-on effects for behaviour.

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