The behaviour question

8th November 2013 at 00:00

I have recently taken over as the head of year for our 13-14 age group. I already know most of the student cohort; they are a great bunch but, on the whole, they are regarded by many staff within the school as an immature group. The main issues include silly behaviour in class, poor organisation, rudeness to staff and a growing ethos that working hard in class is not cool. I have tried several things so far to counter this, but can you suggest anything to help me specifically with getting the students onside, helping the staff to change their view that it is my responsibility alone to manage behaviour and creating a sense of belonging among this year group so that it has pride and belief in what it stands for. I understand that I am asking for the holy grail here, but I really do want to achieve in this role. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

What you said


There needs to be a set of simple rules written down, with which all students, teachers and parents are made familiar, and agree to adhere to, support and implement. As year head, you can write them yourself to begin with, and hold one meeting with your teachers to get them approved. Some of your teachers may need support in implementing them in their classrooms, and a temporary sin-bin arrangement may be necessary for serious offenders.

The expert view

You need to make the year group see that not only are there rewards and positive benefits to behaving, but also unpleasant consequences for those who don't. You need to track the behaviour across the year and identify key players, the ones who really mop up everyone's time. To use a sporting analogy, bench them. Have them working away for short spells and make reintroduction conditional on their good behaviour. You wouldn't let a bad player rejoin the team if they kept fouling everyone and spoiling the whole match. That's how you get teachers on board, because you'll be showing them that you're really supporting them, not just hoping behaviour was better with smiles and best wishes.

You don't get the positive behaviour until you deal with the negative stuff. If you let some students misbehave, the better ones look at them and think, why the hell not? Also, well-behaved children cannot understand why teachers don't deal with their poorly behaved peers.

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.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today