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Crime and punishment – PP39

The topic of the week is Crime and punishment.


Paul isn’t a fan of heavy sanctions. The schools that Pivotal Education work with are on a trajectory towards just using restorative conversations and very small steps in sanctions but in many schools class teachers don’t have control over the policy and still have to operate the system which exists fairly and consistently.

There are general principles which apply to using negative consequences in any system:

  • Make sure the distance between giving the sanction and the offence itself is as short as possible and also try not to separate the personnel involved – sanctions don’t work as well where responsibility is delegated to someone else to give them – the best sanctions are applied very soon after the incident
  • Sanctions which don’t involve some self-reflection are lose impact – make sure there is a conversation or maybe some reflective writing
  • Keep the application of negative consequences private
  • Make sure students know where they are on the ‘ladder’ or steps otherwise it could seem like they are being forced to miss out some steps – Paul mentions a great system in a primary PRU he has seen recently where students have velcro boards where they take ownership of recording where they are on the ‘ladder’ themselves
  • Avoid jumping up the ladder, missing out steps – this can be tempting where behaviour is particularly poor but you will lose your leverage in the conversation afterwards with the child if you haven’t applied the scheme consistently and fairly

Paul always uses the same 5 or 6 steps:

  1. Redirection – gently encourage the learner to start the lesson positively
  2. A reminder of the expectations – deliver this privately wherever possible to de-escalate and decelerate the situation
  3. Caution – if a child is still not following instructions, deliver a private, clear verbal caution, outlining the consequences of continuing as they are
  4. Last chance – this is the ’30 second intervention’, the ‘micro-script’ which is delivered the same way every time and always includes a reminder of when the child behaved well recently
  5. Parking – move the child, give a ‘time out’, park them with another teacher – and always make sure you follow that up personally
  6. Reparation or a follow-up meeting

When a child is ‘parked’ it needs to be recorded so that heads of year or pastoral colleagues can track those children who are disrupting several lessons in a day or across a longer time.

It’s not a game

The concept of having positive and negative faces, names or marks on a board in public makes children think they can ‘game’ the system – to treat it as a challenge to see how it can be manipulated. For example, certain children will try and have consequences taken away by working well towards the end of a session. Paul stresses that sanctions should never be taken away.

There’s a lot more examples and detail in the episode – so do listen!

Announcements and events:

The Pivotal Curriculum Pre-release website


17th June  2014 How to Write an Outstanding Behaviour Policy” with Paul Dix – London

New free iPad App! Students love using the Pivotal Progess Sliders app on iPads to track their progress during lessons. You can also save progress and return to it in the next lesson.

What would you like to hear covered in forthcoming episodes? Let us know by emailing or by leaving a comment below this post.

Get involved:

Appear on the podcast yourself by sending in a comment or question via either of the two answerphone hotlines:

Telephone Hotline Telephone Hotline – 0844 579 6949, Mailbox number 23161 Microphone Computer Hotline (SpeakPipe)

Creative Commons image by: Dave_B_

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