A Pivotal Story: Mandy Hurst

The secondary school transformative behaviour project

Mandy Hurst, Headteacher, Enfield Secondary Tuition Centre

I first worked with the Pivotal team in 2009 when I was appointed as an Assistant Head in a large north London secondary school. My role was inclusion with a focus on behaviour. What was in place was a very sanction driven system, teachers not managing behaviour in their classes and feeling that the situation was dealt with if a slip of paper was written out recording a student’s “poor” behaviour and passed onto another member of staff, who passed it on again and then a detention was issue, maybe several days after the original incident. Teachers felt they couldn’t teach, students took a risk on the fact that it was possible they may “slip through the detention net” and went off to the next lesson and repeated the behaviour. It was chaotic.

I heard Paul speak at a conference; I was enthused and excited and began to see a real and long lasting way forward. I contacted Pivotal and invited them to work with us; professionally it was probably the best decision I have made. We spent time discussing key issues that needed addressing and proposed a number of ways of approaching behaviour transformation in the school. We started with a whole school INSET day: the transformation of our journey from an OFSTED grade of “satisfactory” for behaviour to “outstanding” began. The training was inspirational, it was fun, it was steeped in experience, staff were engaged and inspired. The Pivotal approach enabled everyone to get on the same page and realise that together we could make a huge impact. Teacher’s who considered themselves to be good classroom teachers and behaviour managers, and I included myself amongst that group, felt they had learnt so much and had a whole new range of strategies they could use to engage students and manage behaviour.

The approach offered by the Pivotal team was supportive, professional and responsive to the needs of the school as it went on the journey, we used teacher coaching, online forums and support, we made features of the weekly tips. The Pivotal team did some work for specific groups of staff for example the Behaviour Support Team, the Learning Support Staff and The Pastoral team. They also provided consultancy for the development of the school “Behaviour for Learning” policy. When we decided to move to Vertical Tutoring we again asked Pivotal to provide training for staff, which was hugely successful and gave staff confidence to manage the change to a different pastoral system. Pivotal’s work has had a sustained and lasting impact across the school, teaching and learning is outstanding and subsequently results have risen year on year. There are no whole school detentions, students are happy and largely co-operative, and they understand the behaviour expectations of the school. When an instance of behaviour that does not meet expectation occurs it is dealt with in a fair and consistent manner. Positive behaviour management is just the “way we do things at school” but this attitude started back with the first phone call, the first INSET and is still impacting 5 years later.

I have just taken up post as Headteacher of a large Pupil Referral Unit. One of my first phone calls was to Pivotal asking them to work with us and help shape a positive and consistent approach to behaviour management for some of the most challenging young people we work with to enable them to have opportunities to change their lives.

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