Cycles of behaviour

Good behaviour and order in classrooms and schools are the products of a great many factors and influences. When they break down though, there tends to be an almost instinctive, but oversimplified, response to 'sort out the troublemakers'. This can even occur at a national level. For instance, in March 1988 a Committee of Enquiry, chaired by Lord Elton, was set up in the United Kingdom following a media outcry over reports of teachers being physically attacked by pupils and about 'indiscipline in schools'. Wisely, however, the Elton Committee took a balanced and wide-ranging view of the issues involved and this is reflected in their report.

For work which has derived directly from the Elton Report, see:

Of course, primary schools are generally seen as being relatively successful in developing and maintaining good behaviour and in providing a constructive atmosphere for learning. In 2000/01 the chief inspector of schools reported, ‘pupils' behaviour, their response to their work and their attitudes to school continue to be very good. In only about one school in 50 is behaviour unsatisfactory’. (OFSTED, 2001, paragraph 55).

A school’s behaviour policy provides the ‘official guidelines’ which exemplify recommended approaches to situations relating to behaviour and control, e.g. movement of pupils around the school, what constitutes appropriate behaviour in a range of settings etc. In reality however, the uncertainty of classroom life and the uniqueness of teachers and children, means that the negotiation of classroom and school rules in essentially personal and individual. For helpful and practical approaches to improving whole school and classroom behaviour based on a comprehensive range of research and years of experience of working in schools, see:

This accessible book is, as the title suggests, about pupil disaffection. It tackles some of the issues which confront policy makers and practitioners in many countries and contexts. It stresses the importance of early interagency co-operation and of good quality ongoing training for teachers and other adults working with children. For a discussion of related issues, see:

A constructive programme of activities for whole-school development is provided by:

For books which approach disciplinary issues more explicitly at a whole-school level, see:

Exclusion from school is a serious sanction which may have long term consequences for the children, their parents and the schools concerned. For books which provide evidence for what is happening as well as an exploration of the policy contexts which result in changes in exclusion rates, see:

For a detailed discussion of what causes schools to adopt very different approaches to exclusion, see:

The fundamental differences between schools with high and low rates of exclusion appear to be; the schools' views of what education is all about, the way in which the curriculum is structured, relations with parents and decision making about exclusions.

Many feel that the appropriate use of support staff can play a major role in the support and inclusion of pupils with special needs. There are an increasing number of books to help support staff and those working with them.

For those who act as line managers for support staff there is guidance from the government.

For books which provide background information as well as practical resources aimed at helping schools to make better use of support staff, see:

For a book which looks at the relationships between teachers and support staff from the perspective of the support staff, see:

This book examines the different roles of the special needs co-ordinator, the class teacher and learning support assistant and suggests ways in which these people should work together to support children diagnosed as having special needs. There is a specific chapter which focuses on supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties. The issues related to supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties is further developed in:

For an informative yet accessible introduction to child development and psychology written specifically for support staff, see:

For teaching assistants working in early years or child care settings, see:

For books written especially for support staff, see:

This book is highly accessible and contains both case study material and practical activities to help with the support of children who may have special needs as well as information about how to support literacy and writing.

The impact of class sizes on behaviour and attainment continues to be a hotly debated issue. For an analysis of the educational consequences of class size differences, see:

For a research report which provides a useful introduction to the issues, see:

For a history of corporal punishment and an exploration of discipline within the framework of children’s rights, see:

For a philosophical account of behaviour in schools, see:

For an introduction to nurture groups and a discussion of the ways in which such groups can impact on social change in schools, see:

For an alternative approach to making classrooms a more pleasant and productive atmosphere for all concerned using transactional analysis, see: