Behaviour - sanctions

15th April 2011 at 01:00
My school allows teachers to set their own sanctions. I would like to have a progressive system that starts with a verbal warning. What is the best approach, and which sanctions are classes most frightened of?

What you said

"I'm not sure I go with the `set your own sanctions' approach - surely there are general, whole-school behaviour policies?"


"My system is: 1. Warning, 2. Moved to side bench (automatic 10-minute break detention), 3. If they continue, they are moved to another classroom, 4. If they continue or refuse to go, we call someone from the senior leadership team."


"Serious issues need to be dealt with through the intervention of the senior team or your head of department, but setting your own ground rules and asking the kids to discuss them and understand them first means that a lot of the other stages won't be needed for the majority of time."


The expert view

The best behaviour systems are effective because all staff, pupils and parents are clear about them. The sanctions are agreed and implemented fairly across the school, and at every stage pupils know what will happen as a consequence of their behaviour. Allowing staff to set up their own systems removes this clarity and consistency and can create problems for staff and pupils.

If you are required to create your own sanctions system, you need to ensure it is transparent, fair and consistent. Sanctions should increase gradually and pupils need to know what they are. This will allow them to make decisions about their behaviour that affect how far they go through the system. At our school, pupils are issued with behaviour consequences, from verbal warning to 10-minute detention to being removed from the lesson to allow learning to continue. If the pattern of disruption continues, parents are informed, behaviour agreements set up and pupils isolated for a time.

The aim at all stages is to ensure pupils are making the right choices about their behaviour and not disrupting the learning of others. We try to use this system as consistently as possible across the school as this supports the behaviour management of all colleagues and makes our expectations clear. When creating your own system, ask your pupils to help you decide what is fair and reasonable. This will give them some ownership of the sanctions and their behaviour. Try working with a small team, such as your department, to create a mutually supportive system you can all use.

Finally, a successful behaviour system is not achieved by frightening pupils but through a shared desire for a safe and positive learning environment. This is achieved through fairness, consistency, mutual respect and positive, engaging lessons.

Mark Lewis is deputy headteacher at Marshland High School in Norfolk. For more advice, go to



- Make sure your system is transparent, fair and consistent.

- Involve your pupils in deciding what the sanctions should be.

- Work with colleagues to create a shared system that can be used more widely, such as across your department.


- Base your system solely on punitive sanctions.

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