Inclusion not exclusion

Do you feel supported by your school behaviour policy?

Reviewing your behaviour policy after Covid is the NEU advice for schools about their behaviour and relationships policy.

This advice focuses on the importance of creating a sense of belonging and thinking about the context for children’s behaviour and their engagement with learning.

We advise that conversations about behaviour should actually be conversations about well-being, setting clear expectations about school values and understanding what are the barriers to learning.

Supporting positive behaviour for learning is both a challenging and rewarding part of professional practice.

The NEU advice includes practical tips to explore when using or reviewing your behaviour policy after Covid and draws on the latest research evidence about what can be effective. Getting the response to behaviour right needs to go hand in hand with thinking about poverty, racism, sexism and LGBT+ inclusion because stereotypes and stigma still play a huge role in how young people feel and behave at school.

Reviewing your behaviour policy after Covid

How to support positive learning behaviours


Feeling safe in your workplace

You should be able to feel safe in your workplace, whatever your role or post.

It is important that all staff feel able to speak up and seek support if they feel unsafe or if they face problematic comments, language or behaviour. This could be created by one student, or a group of students, or perhaps one particular class.

Classroom management is a challenging aspect of professional practice. These skills are developed over time but even experienced teachers and support staff will find the dynamic in the classroom can be challenging.   Use the advice elsewhere on this page to develop a whole- school approach to behaviour and positive relationships. Collaboration across a school team has a significant impact. 

In many schools, staff experience feeling supported. Unfortunately, in some schools, we find that education professionals are not supported by senior leaders and a proactive culture to reporting concerns is not encouraged. This can be changed and working collegiately with members in your school is the way forward.

If you do not feel safe at work, here are 5 things you can do:-

  1. Raise with senior managers - your employer has a duty to protect your health, safety, and welfare
  2. Speak to your union rep. You are unlikely to be the only member of staff who feels unsafe, and a collective approach works best
  3. Request an individual assessment for a student where the behaviour of a particular pupil is creating a demonstrable risk
  4. Report incidents, even those which are less serious, and encourage all colleagues to do the same
  5. Check that professional support and counselling is available to staff who experience violence or abuse.

Will Behaviour Hubs help?

The Government has said that its new behaviour hubs will offer schools Requiring Improvement the opportunity to work with other schools on their behaviour policy and practice. 

The NEU rejects the link between being in a category and the assumption that those schools are ‘failing’ on behaviour. Schools in categories are often in high poverty area where staff recruitment and retention is challenging and a deficit model approach is not helpful or justified.

The NEU does want to see much more peer support between schools as an approach to reviewing practice and collaborating around young people with challenging behaviour.

However, the NEU has the following concerns about aspects of the behaviour hubs program: 

  • Many of the lead ‘hub’ schools in the first tranche are academies and MATs. The opportunity to engage should not be limited by school status. Whilst some of these schools will have effective approaches to behaviour, it is well documented that some academies have spear headed the Zero Tolerance approach. This failure to consider the context for behaviour leads to more unexplained exits, poor outcomes for SEND children and racial disparity in who is excluded.  (Link to the EPI research on the website here).  
  • The values being advocated by Tom Bennett is taken from his “Creating a Culture” report which highlights as good practice behaviour policies which include: silent corridors; isolation rooms and behaviour ‘boot camps’.  The language is that of discipline and sanctions rather than well-being and support.

The NEU carried out research with UCL/IoE on ‘Creating a sense of place and belonging in school’ and believes that this approach is what is needed going forward. The research found that schools which used a ‘belonging’ approach had:

  • Improved behaviour
  • Fewer exclusions
  • Better staff retention
  • Improved academic outcomes

There is a risk that using ‘selected’ schools as the ‘hub’ schools will lead to a ‘one size fits all’ approach to behaviour which focusses too much on discipline and sanctions and does little to address the wider issues which can lead to pupil misbehaviour in school when left unsupported such as: poor mental health, poverty, racial discrimination, SEND and undiagnosed SEND.

The criteria for selecting the ‘hub’ schools is based largely around assessment data and does not include their record on inclusion or exclusions.

Recovery Hub

A wealth of supportive advice on positive behaviour in relation to adapting your curriculum, play and outdoor learning, building strong relationships and adapting pedagogy.

Advice about pedagogy on the NEU Education Recovery Hub

Read about this practical model for dealing with current behaviour challenges, the R9 model of behaviour leadership in Behaviour leadership Part 1: moving beyond behaviour management.

For some learners, the value of a strong relationship with a trusted adult in a school can be life- changing. Relationships are fundamental. All interactions between people in schools- including all teaching and learning are mediated through relationships. Read more in Behaviour leadership Part 2: building relationships 

Applying the R9 proactive approach involves a good deal of energy being devoted to laying the groundwork for appropriate behaviour to flourish, rather than simply addressing inappropriate behaviour reactively. The underpinnings of the model are the relationships between the members of the school community and these relationships support all other elements of behaviour leadership. Read more in Behaviour Leadership Part Three: rights and responsibilities   

Positive behaviour management

Tips for support staff and teachers on inclusive behaviour management in class.