Review - Books - A firm grip on better control

29th October 2010 at 01:00

I Shan't Say This Again

By John Bayley, Lynda Haddock and Nick Peacey

Institute of Education


Trevor Averre-Beeson

This is an authoritative yet accessible guide for teachers who want to sharpen up their behaviour management style. It packs a wealth of ideas about working with behaviour concerns, drawn from the authors' years of experience in schools and grounded on evidence from research. It has a punchy chapter summarising some of the most popular commercially available training materials on behaviour management and case studies that bring the theory to life.

The authors state: "This book is about building good relationships ... There is more to a school than curriculum and teaching."

The first chapter focuses on conflict and stress in schools. It seeks to answer the questions "How can we establish an orderly and calm atmosphere in which learning can take place?" and "How can we meet the learning needs of the students in the school?"

What makes this book different is the juxtaposition of case studies exemplifying best practice. Ideas and techniques deriving from the behaviourist, cognitive and humanist perspectives are compared and the principles of positive behaviour management weighed up.

The next chapter considers the barriers facing particular groups and the ambiguities of labelling pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) and ways schools and teachers can learn to cope with them.

Instead of labelling some children and separating them from others, a commitment to inclusiveness is now actively encouraged in schools. A four-stage diagram shows a "continuum of good practice" and illustrates the four main groups of pupils that can be found in any school, from those who have little difficulty with school life to pupils with very complex needs. These groups will vary in size from school to school, depending on its organisation, policies and staff. The book discusses each "stage" at length and considers strategies for dealing with each group.

It goes on to evaluate training materials and looks at key factors that contribute to a successful school, outlining key recommendations for better behaviour-management training.

The book avoids becoming a dry, theoretical review by offering plenty of ideas for working with children who display persistently challenging behaviour and encourages the reader to reflect on the reasons behind it. The authors are keen to draw attention to the idea that teaching young people classed as having BESD involves the same skills as those used for working with most pupils.

They insist that exclusions should be avoided as these increase a pupil's sense of lack of self-worth. Throughout the book, the authors also focus on the importance of building relationships. As many teachers know, "a few days on an outdoor course can be worth a year in school". And while teachers may not have the time or opportunity to do this, "the day-to-day building of reliable and friendly relations is part of learning and therapy that troubled children need". There are many insights here into ways this can be achieved.

It is hard to disagree with the core message of the book: "Managing behaviour in school is not something that can be added on to the rest of the operation. Almost everything we do in school affects the way our pupils behave ... Re-state and review the behaviour plan every half term. Our motto is that staff and students should never be more than six weeks away from a reminder of the institution's expectations."

I Shan't Say This Again is a must-have on your bookshelf, squeezed between your national curriculum guides and your latest poolside novel. Any teacher who is serious about improving behaviour in their school or classroom needs to read it.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: John Bayley, Lynda Haddock, Nick Peacey

John Bayley is a former teacher and head of the education guidance service in Southwark, south London. He is now an independent education consultant. He has featured in more than 70 programmes in the Teaching with Bayley series on Teachers TV. Lynda Haddock is a senior inclusion manager in Newham, east London. Nick Peacey is director of the Special Educational Needs Joint Initiative for Training (Senjit), based at the Institute of Education, University of London.


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