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Examples of Best Practice from Pivotal Trainers – PP24

The topic of the week is Essential Behaviour Insights from the Pivotal Trainers.


trainers1Paul is joined by Pivotal Trainers Helen Day, Ollie Frith, Tara Elie, Barry Stay, John Wooton and Darrell Williams as they take time out from the Pivotal Trainers’ weekend to record a special episode for the Pivotal Podcast.

The team talk in fascinating detail about:

Amazing schools they have known and what makes them special

– Longhill School in East Sussex is mentioned, particularly the excellent inclusion team who work with pupils who have been excluded from lessons.

– Lammas School in East London is praised for its culture and amazing feeling of purpose with all learners and staff sharing ownership.

– Delce Junior School in Kent has a remarkable peer mentorship programme which identifies and addresses some of the stresses associated with year 5 and 6 moving on to secondary school. Year 7s from local secondary schools visit Delce and help the year 5 and 6 pupils.

– Bulford St. Leonards Primary School make excellent provision for the most vulnerable pupils. They are committed to Forest Schools, have their own educational psychologist, use a play therapy bus. There is an excellent staff and headteacher but they also cooperate with other local schools in these times of low budgets.

– Hollyhead School in Handsworth, Birmingham use ‘walkabouts’ in a positive way where senior staff go into lessons with a camera or ipad and take photographs of some of the great things which are going on. The photos are shared immediately on Twitter (with parental permission). This ‘flips’ the more usual behaviour-focussed walks and the children look forward to seeing the camera coming around rather than trying to avoid being ‘caught out’ misbehaving.

– Northampton Academy’s staff are praised for taking risks and having a go. This means that children ask more questions, get out of their seats more, interact with each other more.

– In Buenos Aries, Paul worked with ‘English in Action’ which is a group of teachers led by Susan Hillyard who teach pupils with complex needs English via drama lessons. He visited a group who were being taught in a hospital with very few resources but with amazing results. The children look forward to the lessons every week. When Susan started the project people asked her what the point was of teaching English to pupils with short life expectancy. So great education is also provoking people to think differently.

Advice for NQTs from their wealth of practical experience working with those new to the profession

– With a challenging pupil, find out where that child is succeeding. Talk to teachers who have a good relationship with the child and turn your conversations into positive ones rather than being sucked into negative ones with the child.

– Be honest. Don’t pretend you know all the answers. See it as a learning opportunity to discover with the learners in your class.

– Be positive. Tell a colleague something positive you have seen that week and start a culture of positivity. It will inevitably come back to you.

– Remember that it’s only a job. Get the balance right so your family don’t suffer while you do the best job possible for the children. If you are happy you will do your best for your classes.

– Get a full-length mirror and see what you look like when you are talking. What does your surprised face look like? What does your angry face look like? Alternatively, get a video camera and shoot yourself in action, even on your own.

– Decide what you want your students to be doing in class and then tell them. Pay attention to what you really want from the students and you’ll find you get more of it.

– A well-rested teacher is better than a perfectly-prepared teacher.

Working with the 5% of the class who struggle to stay in the class

– If you give a child responsibility in a classroom you are saying, “I trust you,”I respect you,” “I like you”.

– Set up a small achievement for a pupil so they can be ready to give an answer to a question early on in the lesson. This is a really powerful way to ensure that pupil is involved, has a chance to succeed early on and feels valued.

– Get to know the 5% so they don’t become ‘lost in the system’. This might involve cultivating great relationships with parents. If you know about the child you are much more likely to be able to make a significant connection.

– Try to connect with a pupil because relationships are the basis of  trust.

– For example, if a pupil plays football, attend a match he is in and use his name to shout encouragement. You don’t even need to stay for the whole match – he will remember.

– When there is a particular student who is causing concern, maybe running off site regularly, organise a ‘wanted poster’ encouraging all staff to stop the student on sight and tell them something positive they did from a recent lesson. This can be part of the solution.

– Sometimes children with complex needs require a bit of flexibility. Give them the chance to walk around the site with a teching assistant – to take time pout when it’s necessary so that there is no need for the child to explode int he classroom. Make pre-emptive stikes.

For lots more detail and context, listen to the episode!


TeachMeet London Bus! Pivotal Education are sponsoring the first ever TeachMeet to take place on a London Bus. Tickets are available.

New free iPad App! Be the first to download and use this amazing new 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.

Brand new 5 Minute Assessment for Learning Plan released in collaboration with TeacherToolkit


  • Magnificent Cultures of Teaching and Behaviour – deconstructing excellent practice – 12th March 2014 featuring Paul Dix and Phil Beadle and including an education debate at the end of the day

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)

Image used by permission of William Mulryne

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