Behaviour policy checklist for schools and colleges


Reviewing behaviour policy guide

Practical advice on reviewing your behaviour policy for a whole school approach to making meaningful change. 

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Getting started

This checklist should be used alongside the NEU’s Reviewing your behaviour policy booklet and, for early career teachers (ECTs) and mentors, the ECT behaviour checklist. 

Where we talk about ‘staff’ in the checklist we are referring to all staff: teachers, support staff and other workers around the school. Any review of a behaviour policy should be widely consulted upon with the whole school community, including staff, students and families.

  • Do all staff, including support staff, school meals supervisory assistants (SMSA’s, and all who interact with children understand the school/college behaviour policy and approach to managing behaviour that challenges? And have they received sufficient training on behaviour issues?
  • Have all staff been trained in de-escalation techniques?
  • What measures are in place for the senior leadership team (SLT) to monitor and support staff with behaviour issues?
  • Is there a sense of shared responsibility among staff and students linked to the school’s values?
  • Are those in the wider school community – beyond SLT and teachers – clear about the behaviour policy and their role?
  • Are staff facing more disruptive behaviours because of the learning gaps and disruption to learning? When can this be discussed and strategies on well-being and motivation be shaped?
  • To what extent are staff supported with training and mentoring around difficult conversations with families?
  • Do staff have concerns about particular groups of children, e.g. those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), free school meals (FSM), particular ethnic groups?
  • Is it clear how staff can access support for individual pupils?
  • Do staff feel supported?

Whole school approach to behaviour

Work collectively and create opportunities to audit which of these areas are operating well in your setting and which need further consideration:

  • Are you familiar with the ‘belonging’ approach to behaviour management? 
  • Do you have a clear and robust reporting system that is understood by all staff?
  • Do you have an open door policy for students to raise their concerns?
  • Do you have a whole school approach to promoting good mental health for staff and students?
  • Do you have a diverse workforce?
  • Do you have an effective early help process in place for early intervention?
  • Do you have appropriate procedures in place to ensure staff are confident to raise concerns about policies and process and that they know action and support will follow?
  • Does the school promote positive friendships?
  • Is there an effective safeguarding policy?
  • Are there good staff/student relationships?
  • Do you have effective whistleblowing procedures?

SLT/year group considerations

  • Which groups of students need individual plans, extra small group work or individual help because of learning or pastoral needs?
  • How do school routines impact on pupils, particularly those with SEND?
  • Has cutting break times/lunch times had an impact on pupil behaviour or on friendship and peer relations?
  • Could more outdoor learning be planned?
  • Is more physical activity needed to counteract the effects of the pandemic?
  • What has been learned about the ways you work with families? Should any of these ways of working continue?
  • Are staffing levels sufficient at lunch time? Are SLT members available at lunch time to manage and support colleagues with incidents of behaviour that challenges?
  • Is there enough equipment and activities to keep students occupied during play and lunch breaks?
  • Do staff know how to access extra support, both within school and externally, for pupils finding school or learning challenging following the lockdown period?
  • Should you boost the focus on play and creative activities to support student behaviour?
  • Are there specific issues to consider given the context of your school?

Equalities issues

Individual students with social, emotional or behavioural needs require tailored support, and staff need pastoral systems and referral pathways which feel supportive for staff.

In 2019, the NEU commissioned the Education Policy Institute (EPI) report, Unexplained pupil exits from schools. It confirmed that the key characteristics of pupils who were permanently excluded from school were race, special educational need and poverty.

The following NEU resources may also be useful:

Do all staff and students feel safe and respected?

  • Are disproportionate numbers of Black students receiving behaviour sanctions or being excluded permanently or for fixed-term periods? What is the experience of Black students in your school? Is racist bullying and language challenged proactively?
  • Could behaviour leading to exclusions be related to undiagnosed SEND? What can be changed to ensure SEND is being recognised and assessed in a timely manner? When students need an independent education plan (IEP) review and personalised plans, do staff know how to request them?
  • Could a student’s home circumstances be impacting their behaviour in school? Do you know enough about how children on FSM experience the school day? Have you considered poverty-proofing audits? 

Looked after children

Children in care are ten times more likely to have an education health and care plan (EHCP).

Around one half of children in care have diagnosable mental health and wellbeing issues. They are more likely to be involved in risk-taking behaviours.

The experience of trauma, loss and attachment difficulties can have long-lasting effects on how children and young people relate to others, even if these new relationships are safe and positive. These experiences can lead to behavioural, emotional and mental health difficulties.

Trauma has been linked to a number of behaviours which can be challenging in school including lack of emotional control, poor organisational and planning skills, problems with working memory, and difficult beginning new activities and transitioning between activities.

  • Are staff given training about the implications of the early abuse or neglect often experienced by looked after children?
  • How can you strengthen pastoral structures?
  • Do you engage carers as partners in education?

Building strong relationships with students

  • Are all staff given sufficient time to build quality relationships with the students?
  • Are staff being required to do too many other tasks that detract from being able to get to know and understand their students effectively?
  • Is transition information about behaviour and SEND that is passed to colleagues effective in enabling the correct support to be put in place?
  • Can staff regularly plan a two-minute conversation with their class students (primary) or form class students (secondary)?
  • Are all staff given the time and techniques to get to know student names quickly (helping to create a sense of belonging for all students)?
  • Are you offering regular opportunities for primary students to share their home interests with the class through show and tell, circle time, culture days etc?
  • Is it clear when students can talk to a staff member if they need to? Do you signpost your availability to them?

Classroom practice

  • Do staff know how to tailor behaviour approaches for different students who may have SEND or adverse childhood experiences (ACE) or
  • trauma-related experiences? How are they supported to do this? 
  • Are staff allowed to use different behaviour methods which work for them? 
  • Have you been offered training in de-escalation techniques? 
  • Are rewards systems for behaviour fair and flexible to ensure all students can be successful in their behaviour for learning? 
  • Do staff give specific behaviour-related praise during lessons? 
  • Are students greeted positively on their way into school and classrooms? 
  • Can students remind you of the class and school rules? 

Supporting early career teachers

  • ECTs have told us that positive behaviour management and SEND are two of the key areas when beginning teaching on which they feel they require more support.
  • We hope that the questions below will help to facilitate the conversation about behaviour approaches between ECTs, mentors and SLT, and enable the support, appropriate information and understanding that is needed for success.
  • Are you familiar with your school’s behaviour policy and how you would implement it? 
  • Have you received any training from the school about behaviour management? 
  • Do you know whether any of the students you teach have SEND and/ or a behaviour support plan? If so, have you been informed fully about how they should be supported and the procedures in place to support staff if required during lessons? 
  • If you work in a special school or alternative provision, have you been trained in the school procedures for keeping a student safe if they are at risk to themselves or others? 
  • Have you been given guidance/training on physical interventions if needed? 
  • Do you know who your first port of call is if you are having issues in your classroom and need immediate assistance?
  • Do you and your mentor meet regularly and discuss any current concerns about behaviour/classroom management? 
  • Does your school have a safe system in place for detentions (if used) such as not being in a room alone with a pupil, or use of SLT detentions? 
  • Do you know who you need to report behaviour incidents to? Do you know how behaviour incidents are recorded? 
  • Have you received safeguarding training? And do you know who to report safeguarding concerns to in the school? 
  • Have you received training/advice on how to react to, manage and report racist, sexist, LGBT+ phobic and disablist incidents in school? 
  • Do you know where the accident report book is in your school? Do you know how to report an accident in it? 
  • Are you aware of the school’s administering medicines policy?
  • Do you know that you cannot be required to administer medicines and, if you agree to do so, you must receive appropriate training from a medical professional? 
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