EEF Blog: There’s a clear need for schools to have consistent and clear behaviour policies

Our chief executive, Sir Kevan Collins, introduces the EEF's eleventh guidance report, this one focusing on improving behaviour in schools...

Misbehaviour in lessons is something that has been documented by teachers for centuries. And while most pupils in most lessons are well-behaved, it’s a major cause of stress for teachers and can have a lasting impact on the outcomes of the pupils in the class. There’s a clear need for schools to have consistent and clear behaviour policies that promote positive behaviour in lessons.

Our latest EEF guidance report, Improving Behaviour in Schools, is designed to support senior leaders in primary and secondary schools to make better-informed decisions about their behaviour strategies. It includes a number of practical examples of programmes and approaches that should be helpful in schools and classrooms where behaviour is generally good, as well as where there are problems.

The recommendations in this report focus on three areas:

  1. The first details strategies to prevent misbehaviour happening.
    A key theme from these recommendations is the importance of knowing individual pupils well, so that schools and teachers know which factors might affect pupil behaviour and what the school can do to address these. It is also good that many simple approaches that don’t take much time or money to implement – like providing breakfast clubs, or greeting pupils individually before a lesson – can have a really positive impact on behaviour.
  2. The second focuses on how to deal with bad behaviour when it happens.
    A key message is that schools should use personalised approaches – like daily report cards – to address ‘problem pupils’, rather than universal systems. It recommends that teachers are trained in specific strategies if they’re dealing with pupils with high behaviour needs.
  3. The third focuses on the importance of consistency and coherence when it comes to behaviour policies.
    This means that once senior leaders have considered the rationale for putting a new behaviour strategy or approach to work, they need to spend time and care embedding it across the entire school. 

To develop this report’s six recommendations for improving behaviour we not only reviewed the best available international research, but also consulted with teachers and other experts.

As with all EEF guidance reports, its publication is just the start of how we aim to support schools in implementing these recommendations. We will now be working with the sector, including through our colleagues in the Research Schools Network, to build on them with further training, resources and tools. 

This report is well-timed for school leaders to consider alongside the recent Timpson report on exclusions, and to be part of professional conversations around behaviour that will be central to the Department for Education’s Behaviour Support Networks.

And, as ever, we will be looking to support and test the most promising programmes that put the lessons from the research into practice. 

Our hope is that this guidance will help to support a consistently excellent, evidence-informed education system in England that creates great opportunities for all children and young people, regardless of their family background.