RWA11.1: Understanding childhood resilience, and important protective factors
The Center on the Developing Child (2015) at Harvard University has produced some informative material on the issue of resilience in childhood and protective factors that may be useful to settings, schools and colleges in considering how they might conceptualised how appropriately to support learners about whom they have concerns in this regard. Further video materials can be found here.
How useful do you find this material in understanding the concept of childhood ‘resilience’ and in supporting the development of resilience among learners who may be experiencing considerable adversity in their lives?
RWA11.2: Relevance of the Steer Report to promoting and sustaining learning and resilience
In the Steer Report (DfES, 2006), the key to articulating a school’s values is the school’s behaviour policy that should be clear, coherent, shared by all the stakeholders in the school. Schools are exhorted to review their behaviour, teaching and learning policies and carry out an audit of student behaviour. In carrying out this audit, ten aspects of effective school practice are identified as supporting positive student behaviour (Steer, Section 2, §6, §9). You might choose to use these ten points as the basis for an audit of the degree to which behaviour policy is effective at a school with which you are familiar:
- a consistent approach to behaviour management, teaching and learning. Being ‘consistent’ means that when there is persistent offending or low level disruption, all schools should:
- ‘ensure staff follow through issues with pupils indicating what must be done to improve;
- ensure that staff discuss with parents the school’s concerns and agree a common way of working to help pupils make improvements to their behaviour; and
- establish the best way of communicating with parents and provide regular feedback on the progress being made’ (§9).
Good teaching means that all schools should (p. 4):
- ‘identify those pupils who have learning and behavioural difficulties, or come from communities or homes that are in crisis, and agree with staff common ways of managing and meeting their particular needs.
- ‘ensure that senior colleagues are highly visible at particular times of the day, to support staff and maintain a sense of calm and order. Critical times in a school day are at the beginning, break and lunch times, changes of lessons (in secondary schools), and the end of the school day; and
- ‘ensure that senior managers regularly walk their building, going into classrooms and assessing how well staff are consistently applying the school’s policies on behaviour improvement.’
- effective school leadership by head teachers and governors that is seen as crucial in developing shared expectations and values and creating a sense of security and good order that supports positive pupil behaviour. Schools are advised to work in partnership with parents to ‘set high expectations for pupils and staff in all aspects of the school’s life and show how they are to be met. For example:
- by clear codes of conduct;
- by guidance on how to improve their work; and
- a dress code.
Senior leaders are advised to ‘use opportunities such as assemblies to articulate their expectations and reinforce them by their visibility around the building during the day’ and also to ‘model the behaviour and social skills they want pupils and staff to use’ (p.5). The responsibilities and roles of senior staff for behaviour improvement should be clearly identified.
- classroom management, learning and teaching. The school curriculum should be ‘accessible to pupils of all abilities and aptitudes’ (§15). There should be an agreed teaching and learning policy, negotiated with all stakeholders in the school, that identifies the teaching and classroom management strategies to be followed by all staff. All schools should (§17):
- ‘ensure all staff follow the learning and teaching policy and behaviour code and apply agreed procedures;
- ‘plan lessons well, using strategies appropriate to the ability of the pupils;
- ‘use commonly agreed classroom management and behaviour strategies such as a formal way to start lessons. In secondary schools this could include: All pupils being greeted by the door, brought into the classroom, stood behind their chairs, formally welcomed, asked to sit and the teacher explaining the purpose of the lesson;
- ‘offer pupils the opportunity to take responsibility for aspects of their learning, working together in pairs, groups and as a whole class;
- ‘use Assessment for Learning techniques, such as peer and self assessment, to increase pupils’ involvement in their learning and promote good behaviour;
- ‘collect data on pupils’ behaviour and learning and use it, for example, to plan future groupings and to target support on areas where pupils have the greatest difficulty;
- ‘ensure that all teachers operate a classroom seating plan. This practice needs to be continued after transfer to secondary school. Educational research shows that where pupils are allowed to determine where they sit, their social interactions can inhibit teaching and create behaviour problems;
- ‘ensure teachers build into their lessons opportunities to receive feedback from pupils on their progress and their future learning needs;
- ‘recognise that pupils are knowledgeable about their school experience, and have views about what helps them learn and how others’ poor behaviour stops them from learning; and
- ‘give opportunities for class, year and school councils to discuss and make recommendations about behaviour, including bullying, and the effectiveness of rewards and sanctions.
Homework is seen as providing, potentially, a major source of friction and confrontation. ‘Planning homework carefully and setting it early in a lesson can significantly increase the number of pupils who subsequently have a clear understanding of what is expected of them. This is particularly helpful to pupils with special educational needs who can be disadvantaged by the volume of work presented (§18).
- rewards and sanctions: all schools are expected to have a range of rewards and sanctions that are appropriate and applied fairly and consistently by staff. Planning to improve pupil behaviour should be informed by statistical information about the use and effectiveness of rewards and sanctions. There should also be an agreed system to identify when poor behaviour should be dealt with by classroom teachers and when it should be referred to more senior staff.
- behaviour strategies and the teaching of good behaviour: all staff should understand and use consistently, the behaviour management strategies agreed by the school community, and use pupil tracking systems to identify patterns of positive and negative behaviour. This includes having an agreed policy about how to teach pupils ‘to manage strong feelings, resolve conflict, work and play cooperatively and be respectful and considerate; and arranging additional small group support for pupils who need it’ (§22). Staff should be acquainted with, and use where appropriate the SEAL and SEBS4 materials from the National Strategy to develop pupils’ emotional development. New staff should be made aware of the school’s behaviour policy and practices.
- staff development and support: staff should be trained and supported to implement the school’s behaviour policy. All leaders should have access to training to mentor less experienced staff.
- pupil support systems: schools should recognise that good pastoral support is focused on academic attainment and supporting pupils to become good citizens, not just on individual badly behaved children. Pastoral staff should ensure that all pupils feel a sense of belonging to the school community by sharing a common dress code that is agreed with parents and families.
- liaison with parents and other agencies: there should be a comfortable area where parents can be received. Reception and other staff should know how to welcome parents and be able to deal with distressed and angry parents. Parents and carers should be informed when their children are doing well as well as when there is a problem. Communication between school and home should include new technology such as email and mobile phones. However, ‘this should not replace personal contact’ (§30).
- managing pupil transition: teachers should be given appropriate information about new classes at the beginning of the school year to help the plan work and manage behaviour. Schools should consider a managed entrance at the beginning of the week where there is a high level of pupil mobility to avoid day by day arrivals. They should also draw on the expertise of outside agencies such as Traveller support teams. Buddying from other pupils with named staff as mentors can help new arrivals to a school.
- organisation and facilities: attractive, clean environments are conducive to good behaviour and learning, so any graffiti and rubbish should be cleaned up immediately. The fabric of the building is important in making pupils feel they are respected. Toilets should always be clean and supplied with soap, paper towels or hand dryers. There should be discrete areas in the school with seating for pupils to socialise. Play areas should be zoned to separate louder activities from quiet areas. In addition timetabling should be organised very carefully to ensure:
- that teachers are not timetabled for a second year with classes that they had a poor relationships with the previous year;
- that pupils with reading difficulties are not timetabled for a whole day without some lesson where they have a practical activity;
- that teachers are timetabled so that they can get to their teaching areas quickly; and
- that at key points of movement, staff are on duty to supervise.’
RWA11.3: Advice about cyber bullying for head teachers and school staff
Childnet International and the Government Equalities Office have together issued guidance to schools about how to address cyber bullying in schools: Cyberbullying Understand, Prevent and Respond: Guidance for Schools. This includes sets of links to resources that offer guidance to professionals and families who might be concerned about what to do in cases of suspected cyber bullying.
Please have a look at this document and the links that are embedded in it. Familiarise yourself both with institutions’ legal obligations to protect young people and staff in cases of cyberbullying, and also the advice on how to prevent and deal with such bullying.
How useful and practical do you find the advice that is offered here?