The behaviour question

18th October 2013 at 01:00

I am the inclusion manager in a state school where I deliver interventions for referred students who have behavioural problems. I would like your opinion on one of my performance targets, which holds me responsible for their behaviour while they are in school. The target is: "Students who I am working with do not present behaviour in lessons or around school that will result in isolation, after-school lessons or exclusion sanctions." I feel it is unreasonable to hold me responsible for the behaviour of students in this way. Sometimes it doesn't take much for these teenagers to behave badly. What's your view?

What you said ...


Astonishing. How can you control the myriad reasons for students' misbehaviour? Home life, relationships, their diets, the weather, hormones, because they feel like it ... there are so many. Your role is to encourage them to develop the tools they need to help them deal with the above. Was it actually a professional educator who devised this piece of stupidity?


Someone doesn't understand the difference between target, goal and aim. A target could be to improve the students' behaviour, otherwise it could be argued that you are not adding any value (I'm not suggesting that). Alternatively, you could measure results and make relevant changes to try to improve them. In my experience, people are not good at setting targets, especially where there are no hard and fast numbers, or measures. So they make them woolly, which is the worst kind of target for the person who needs to reach it. To give an example, in a business that manufactures aircraft, compare: "Target: no aeroplane built by the company will crash" with "Target: no aeroplane built by the company will crash as a result of component failure". The first is clearly impossible to guarantee because the manufacturer cannot control the multiple factors, including weather or poor piloting, that can cause a crash, hence it is a bad target; the other is a good target.

The expert view

This is nonsensical: you might as well be held responsible for their choice of wedding venue. Of course, as you are someone intervening in their lives, it could be seen as an aspiration that they would behave better in school, but as a target that you can be held accountable for? Impossible. There are too many other factors that you have no control over, and it would be unfair to make you responsible for these.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. Watch his behaviour videos at www.tesconnect.combehaviourvideos

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour.

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