Schools Should Follow Checklist To Enforce Discipline, Says Headteacher

Keep Calm And Carry On: Checklist For Schools To Combat Discipline

A checklist to help teachers and pupils maintain discipline was published by the government on Wednesday.

The document, entitled: "getting the simple things right" was developed by Charlie Taylor, the government's behaviour tsar and the head teacher at Willows Special School, which has adopted a zero tolerance policy towards bad behaviour.

The report recommends head teachers identify staff who fail to uphold good standards of behaviour. Teachers are also expected to set a good example to children by remaining calm at "all times", saying hello to students as they enter the classroom and learning each pupil's name.

The publication of the checklist followed a recent behaviour summit in which head teachers of schools in areas of high deprivation discussed principles for improving behaviour in schools.

Tick boxes include:

  • Ensuring "absolute clarity" over what is expected of pupils' behaviour
  • Displaying school rules around the building
  • Making sure children receive rewards for good behaviour and a "sanction" every time they misbehave
  • Taking action to deal with staff who fail to follow behavioural policy
  • Ensuring pupils come in from the playground and move around the school in an "orderly manner"
  • Making sure the head teacher is a "visible presence" in the playground and not confined to their office

Taylor blamed inconsistency in schools as one of the reasons for bad behaviour.

"Often the problem is that they aren't being consistent with their behaviour policy, such as ensuring that punishments always happen every time a pupil behaves badly.

"As a head teacher I know that where there is inconsistency in schools, children are more likely to push the boundaries."

Taylor, who has been the head teacher at the school in Hillingdon, London, since 2006, adopted the zero tolerance policy shortly after joining and has seen his school earn "outstanding" ratings in its last two Ofsted inspections.

The head teacher wants his staff to run through the checklist in the morning and after lunch to "ensure the correct preparations".

"Without good behaviour teachers can't teach and pupils can't learn," he added. "Some schools struggle with managing and improving behaviour."

But the initiative has already received criticism.

Katie (surname withheld), the head of English at a secondary state school in Berkshire, called the checklist "ridiculous".

"What a waste of money. I don't need to be told to say 'hello' to my pupils when they come in for class, neither do I need to be told to learn their names. The government seems to forget that teachers have been trained to do their job."

Woodend Park Primary School, also in Hillingdon, is trialing the checklist approach.

Teacher Avril Stockley said the list was "helpful" and reminded staff to do the "simple things like praise children for good behaviour".

"We have found that when children know that teachers will stick to the behaviour policy and class routines, they feel safer and happy, and so not only behaviour improves but learning too.”

Stephen Twigg, Labour’s shadow education secretary, welcomed the guidance published by Taylor, saying good behaviour and discipline were "crucial to the quality of learning, tackling the scourge of bullying and ensuring high levels of trust by parents and the community in schools".

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