Positive discipline can set the bar for behaviour standards

1st May 2009 at 01:00

Our education system has had a plethora of ineffective solutions. So what works if we want pupils from a "difficult area" to be judged outstanding on their behaviour, and to be keen to learn and happy to come to school?

There are certain tenets which have to be in place. The headteacher must have a clear vision of what is an effective school and, within that, what is classed as acceptable behaviour. This view must be shared with all the staff and pupils, and there must be zero tolerance for unacceptable behaviour.

Any incident, however minor, should be dealt with and investigated. Parents and carers need to be certain that their concerns are heard and that incidents are followed through to a solution.

The approach must involve the whole school, must be kept simple and not encumbered with so many sanctions that it becomes unmanageable.

The headteacher needs to be visible and ensure that he or she knows each pupil, personally and by name. The pupils need to know they are liked and their company enjoyed, and that they are listened to and responded to so that they will prefer not to risk damaging that relationship.

Praise should be used widely but only when deserved so that it is a valued commodity. The headteacher should be out in the playground talking to children and parents before the start of the school day, and at playtimes and lunchtimes.

Excellent - or at least good - teaching, and a whole range of activities designed to motivate and encourage pupils to want to learn, are also necessary.

I would like to state that I practise what I preach.

Terry Willis, Headteacher, Cowley Hill School, Hertfordshire.

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