Behaviour and Civility
A culture of civility begins with a belief that all children are profoundly good and that restorative approaches to discipline work because children learn best through healing relationships that make them feel safe, secure, and nurtured. At St Teilo's, we call this our ‘love and logic’ approach to managing behaviour:
- I will treat you with respect, so you know how to treat me.
- If you cause a problem, I will ask you to solve it.
- If you can’t solve the problem, or chose not to, I will do something about it.
- What I do will depend on the special person and the special situation.
- When the problem is solved, I’ll thank you and we’ll get on with the lesson.
Punishment versus Relational Practice
‘Zero tolerance’ or ‘no excuse’ approaches to school culture are entirely at odds with our mission. And, as tempting as such methods might be, they do not actually work. As the American Psychological Association Zero Tolerance Task Force found, “Zero tolerance has not been shown to improve school climate or school safety.” Conversely, in its 2016 report Preventing Bullying Through Science, Policy, and Practice, the National Academies of Sciences states that the most effective school behaviour programmes “are those that promote a positive school environment and combine social and emotional skill-building for all students, with targeted interventions for those at greatest risk for being involved in bullying.” In other words, zero-tolerance has zero positive impact.
Zero tolerance policies come at a huge social cost. Research tells us that it is our most vulnerable students who get excluded: they are twice as likely to be in care, four times more likely to have grown up in poverty and seven times more likely to have an additional learning need.
The type of relational practice that is expected at St Teilo’s can be characterised by:
- Consistent, calm adult behaviour
Adults do not shout or respond emotionally to poor behaviour. Responses are always rational and planned. Adult behaviour is deliberately modified to make the team effort consistent.
- First attention for best conduct
Adults get more of the behaviour they notice the most. Recognition is reserved for 'brilliant learners'. Positive postcards and phone calls home provide big gains.
- Relentless routines
Adults teach children routines and stick to them. Expectations (or rules) are limited to ‘respect people, respect learning, respect property’.
- Restorative follow up
Adults choose ‘relational paths’ out of difficult events instead of ‘punishment roads’. Planned and restorative conversations bring about positive change. Children get what they need, not what they deserve.
Above all other things, our school must be a safe place for all children and staff. This means that we cannot allow those actions which cause harm. Our non-negotiables set the context for a safe school and, as such, they must be enforced at all times by all people.
Hate speech is any language which attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.
When young people hear hate speech in school they can be made to feel unsafe, insecure, unwelcome or left out. Used over time, hate speech can negatively affect young people’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. Intolerance and discrimination of this type threatens our cohesive school community and is not compatible with our Christian mission of ‘being fully the person God is calling us to be’. Everybody who attends St Teilo’s has a right to feel loved and cared for.
All hate speech used in school will be recorded and reported. Children who use hate speech will receive a consequence, whatever their justification for using the language. Consequences for using hate speech will be non-negotiable. Pupils who choose to speak in this way may be reported to the police.
Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual. Violence results in (or is likely to result in) injury or emotional harm.
When young people threaten one another in school, or use physical force or power to cause harm, children are put at risk. Violence often results in physical harm but it also causes young people to suffer emotional harm. Violence is not compatible with our values as a Church in Wales school and threatens the smooth running of the school. Our school community is characterised by civility and violence has no place here.
All violence, threatened or actual, used in school will be recorded and reported. Children who use violence will receive a consequence, whatever their justification for the aggression. Consequences for using violence will be non-negotiable. Pupils who choose to use violence in this way may be reported to the police.
Mobile phones of any type are not permitted in school building.
Mobile phones can have huge benefits but, for young people, they also represent a risk when used unwisely. One in three young people say that they live in fear of cyber-bullying and up to seventy percent of children admit to being abusive to another young person via their phone. Mobile phones can seriously affect young people’s wellbeing, with forty percent saying they feel bad if somebody does not ‘like’ their selfie. In school, mobile phones can interfere with the smooth running of lessons and are used to bully children. They also prevent young people from socialising effectively with one another.
Parents tell us that mobile phones keep their child safe coming to and from school. Students tell us that they sometimes need to use their phones during the school day to keep in touch with parents. In the school building, all phones should be switched off and kept securely in bags without exception. The school yard has been designated the ‘phone zone’ and is the only place in the school where phones are permitted. If a telephone is used inside the school building it will be confiscated. Phones may be collected at the end of the day. If children bring a phone to school, they do so at their own risk.
It is important that children know we like them, even when we don’t like their behaviour. That’s why we need a clear set of expectations that every young person – and every adult – adheres to. The difficulty with sets of rules for the classroom, rules for the corridor and rules for the playground is that nobody can ever remember them!
To achieve total consistency we need a simple, shared language that describes the positive behaviour we want to see in the school; a language that applies across the age and ability range and in any context. Our expectations of behaviour are therefore ‘Respect People, Respect Property, Respect Learning’.
Respecting people includes but is not limited to: using kind and inclusive language; listening well to others; keeping hands, feet and objects to yourself; not belittling or embarrassing others; and following instructions immediately and with good grace. Respecting people also includes our treatment of support staff, associate staff, volunteers and visitors.
Respecting learning includes but is not limited to: making sure the classroom stays quiet when it needs to be quiet; letting every member of the group contribute; taking pride in written work; asking and answering questions; allowing others to answer; respecting the mistakes made by others; completing work as fully as possible; and being on time and ready to learn.
Respecting property includes but is not limited to: not damaging school supplies; avoiding wastefulness; cleaning up after oneself; not littering; and not damaging the building. Respecting property applies in school and on trips, to buildings and vehicles.
Of course, things will go wrong from time to time. When they do, adults will always remain calm, remembering that a child’s poor behaviour is not personal. Staff will employ any of the following strategies to help manage behaviour in the classroom. Which strategy they use and when they use it is entirely up to them. After all, staff know the context of their class better than anyone.
- Verbal reminder(s)
- Chat at the door
- Quick breather
- Swap seats
- Teacher’s desk
- ‘Subject park’
- Removed from room
Managing a classroom is no easy feat. All concerns are passed on so that staff feel supported and children know that the school and home will collectively reinforce the classroom expectations. Classroom concerns are passed on using the ‘Classroom Concern’ card.
Appropriate follow-up actions may include but are not limited to: a telephone call home; direct work with the child; removal of recreational time; use of a tracker; or, in serious circumstances, a short, fixed-term exclusion from school. The focus is the immediacy of the action as opposed to the weight.
All classroom concerns are recorded and used to inform decisions by the Wellbeing and Inclusion Panel who manage the school’s Graduated Response.