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Focussing on the 95%

Here at Pivotal, our behaviour management programmes are shaped around the 95% of learners (or, if you’re very fortunate, the 98%) who arrive every day, keen, focused and ready to learn. Our Pivotal approach puts positive behaviour at the forefront; meaning there is no need for whole class detentions or punitive sanctions. Learners who regularly go over and above are praised, and those 3-5% who may struggle with behaviour are given the support they need.

We believe that behaviour policies cannot be a one hit wonder or single term fix, they need to be sustainable.

So, does forming positive relationships make our jobs as teachers easier?

For us, the simple answer is yes. Forming positive relationships and getting to know your class(es)- providing that nurturing relationship- is key. A study from the Endowment Foundation found a lack of evidence to support that a ‘zero tolerance’ behaviour policy has impact. There are certainly numerous merits to forming positive relationships. Spend time getting to know your learners so that everyone is invested together. Start by setting high expectations for students in terms of behaviour by simplifying the rules and routines. Model the behaviour you expect to see. By consistently reinforcing these and leading by example, students can regulate their behaviour understand that actions have consequences. This sets the foundation for great learning to take place. Focusing on getting it right promotes a positive classroom environment, establishes trust and creates a safe space.

Sanctions are an opportunity.

For those who need reminding of the rules and routines, sanctions help to reset those boundaries and teach what is meant by acceptable behaviour. Use sanctions to demonstrate fairness and equality, restore the balance between student and teacher, and have those necessary conversations in a consistent way:

A planned, private five minute conversation can have a more positive impact on the child than more punitive measures. If sanctions are really just retribution then the effect on the child is likely to be negative. How many children spend their time in detention thinking about how they are going to change their behaviour? How many spend their time planning the weekend or planning revenge on their teacher?” (You can read the full article here:

Avoid ‘Them and Us’

Blanketed or unnecessary punishments reinforce a ‘them and us’ culture. Ask yourself the question; is the behaviour of the whole class down purely to a select few? Get everyone on the same page and see why consistency really matters for aligning the 95% and 5% of learners in your setting.

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