Incredible Years® Teacher Classroom Management (IY®-TCM) is a continuing professional development programme which aims to develop teachers’ classroom management techniques, to improve behaviour in the classroom, reduce disrupted learning, and increase attainment.
The programme covers multiple strategies for decreasing inappropriate behaviour and encourages teachers to support students to regulate their emotions. Behaviour management strategies are delivered by teachers to the whole class and integrated into everyday classroom practice.
The general evidence for behaviour programmes suggests that improving behaviour can improve attainment, which is what this project set out to explore.
IY® – TCM is a popular programme internationally with four RCTs, including two from the UK, showing strong evidence of impact on behavioural outcomes.
A high-quality meta-analysis of teacher classroom management approaches (Korpershoek, 2017) found that classroom management interventions have a significant effect on various student outcome measures, including attainment. Programmes such as IY® – TCM that incorporate social and emotional learning (SEL) were found to have the biggest effects, particularly on SEL outcomes but also on attainment. The IY-TCM programme is well established, having been evaluated in several countries, as well as being trialled in England recently by the delivery team. It is a strong candidate for evaluation in trial.
However, the project and its evaluation were affected by the 2020 and 2021 partial school closures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The trial continued to be implemented, but pupils’ exposure to the intervention was reduced, as they spent less time with the teacher in the classroom. Attainment outcomes could not be collected due to the cancellation of KS1 SATs. Behaviour and mental health outcomes (as assessed by classroom teachers) were collected, but these had low response rates. Surveys, observations, interviews, and case studies were also undertaken to evaluate the programme’s implementation, but not all of these could be completed.
There is some evidence to suggest that when teachers attended at least four out of six training sessions, the intervention had a small positive impact on pupils’ behaviour when assessed by their classroom teachers. This impact was small and there may be other differences between teachers that attended sessions and those that did not which could contribute to the difference in impact. When the amount of training teachers attended is not taken into account, there is no evidence of an impact on behaviour or mental health outcomes for pupils analysed in the evaluation.
Teachers who attended the training showed larger improvement in perceived self-efficacy compared to teachers who did not receive the intervention. There was also some evidence that behaviour management had improved more for the intervention teachers, although this is self-reported.
The biggest barriers to effective implementation were ensuring that schools and teachers understood the aims of the training, and the time and cost challenges of releasing teachers to attend all six training days. The latter is particularly important given the differing impact results depending on training attendance.
The EEF has no further plans to fund a further trial of IY®-TCM.