Behaviour-whose responsibility is it anyway?

Behaviour-whose responsibility is it anyway?

This is a very brief post about my thoughts on effective behaviour management in Secondary schools.

(I am trying to blog more but am trying to keep the word count under 750 to allow me to do so!)

There is a very short answer to the title of this post and that is ‘everyone in the school’. This is fairly straightforward enough but actually doesn’t really get to the real point. In a school we all have a ‘responsibility’ to ensure that we promote positive behaviours and challenge any disruptive behaviour- my definition of disruptive behaviour is any behaviour that stops others learning or causes them to act or behave in a way that they normally would not. This is the basic rule for anyone working with children in schools.

The real responsibility for behaviour, however, lies with the Headteacher and their Leadership Team. It is incumbent on us to ensure we have systems and protocols that support all staff in dealing with behaviour. Like any system or process in school it should be, in my opinion, be designed to support the classroom teacher who is on 22/25 hour lessons a week. A truly effective behaviour management system is designed to make sure that, regardless of how long you have been teaching, whether it be 10 minutes or 10 years, the classroom teacher is supported to be able to teach free from disruptive behaviour. Middle and senior leaders need to remember this-we all have a responsibility to support those less experienced in dealing with disruptive behaviours.

The system also needs to be ‘blame free’. For example, if you are teaching and have a child removed from your lesson then that is not your fault. It’s not your fault that ‘child A’ decided not to do as they were asked. It’s the fault of ‘child A’ and the conversation should be with ‘child A’ their parents about what they are going to do and rectify their behaviour. If a member of staff has repeated call outs to the same class/student, then the conversation should be about what we can do to support that colleague. Do we need to remove 1 or 2 individuals to make this work effectively? Do we need to re-room this group to make sure that their room is beside a group being taught by an experienced member of staff who can be on hand to support immediately? Do we need to support the member of staff by having them observe colleagues who apply behaviour management principles effectively? There are many, many more strategies but the starting point should always be to deal with those causing the disruptive behaviour rather than the teacher.

I should qualify this last point. The vast majority of staff who are fully supported will develop effective behaviour management strategies in their class. There are, unfortunately, some colleagues who despite effective systems and regular support still struggle but they, in my experience, are in the very small minority and schools have procedures for dealing with these situations. The vast majority of staff, however, deserve strong, robust structures led by senior and middle leaders (in a previous blog I set out what I consider to be an effective SLT:

In my school, I am responsible for behaviour. There are 1500 students and 200 staff but I am responsible for behaviour. I have pastoral leaders, curriculum leaders and pastoral support staff, however I am responsible for behaviour. I can’t be in every classroom all the time but I am responsible for ensuring there are effective systems to support teachers and other colleagues in the classroom. As a Headteacher, I am responsible for behaviour of every student. The long answer to the question in the title of the blog? Everyone is responsible for behaviour but Headteachers are more responsible than everyone else.


9 thoughts on “Behaviour-whose responsibility is it anyway?”

  1. Good behaviour is and will always be the responsibility of the student who misbehaves (and parents).

    Not the Headteacher, not the teacher not the person sorting the callouts but the student.

    The Headteacher is simply responsible for ensuring that systems and procedures are in place to deal with students who choose to behave in an unacceptable manner. Teachers are responsible for ensuring that the rules are implemented consistently.

    But students are responsible for behaving badly and students are responsibile for choosing to act appropriately.

    1. Agree Brian. When I say that I am responsible, I am saying that I am responsible for ensuring that we have the proper systems to deal with disruptive students. Thanks for the comment. Paul

  2. This is a great point. While Brian is entirely accurate when he says that students and their parents need to take responsibility, it does not make life for teachers any easier when they fail or refuse to do so.
    In my experience, teachers are too often left to deal with poor behaviour, supported by middle management who have no where to turn further up the chain of command. The insinuation that a child only misbehaves for a particular teacher, or that they’d behave better if lessons were more interesting, is damaging to younger or more inexperienced staff.
    I nearly left the profession after my 3rd year – only the summer holiday, and the promise of different classes in September, saved me. 10 years on, I do everything I can to support colleagues, without ever saying that most unwelcome phrase ‘they’re never like that for me!’

    1. ‘They’re never like that for me’-possibly the most damaging thing that can be said to a teacher dealing with disruptive students. Glad that things are much better. Paul

    1. Yes but the unmet need can not be automatically attributed to every child who misbehaves either.

      I have taught children who fall into this category and have indeed needed to be assessed. I have other children who have behaved poorly and then it was expected that some label should be attached rather than expect the pupil to turn their behaviour around.

      In addition, having an unmet need does not remove the need for the child to learn the difference between right and wrong and accept responsibility for their behaviour. The diagnosis can only support with how to support the pupil but if you bring them up with the idea that this is an excuse and they are not responsible for their behaviour, it simply creates a situation where the child does not change the behaviour. The greatest advocate of this was in fact a TA whose child had ADHD and who was horrified that while she was teaching him to behave and cope with his condition at home, the school were letting him off the hook and therefore undoing all her good work.

      1. Hi, I agree that sometimes we are far too ready to attribute a label to some students when, in fact, all they need to do is behave! There are, however, some students who have genuine learning needs that we need to support them with. Thanks for the comment. Paul

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