Return to Policy and Practice

Behaviour in Schools – Ensuring Progress

I was looking at Evidence Based Teaching factors in a previous article when it struck me how important behaviour is as a factor in all of this.

The studies showed that poor behaviour can cost around 1 to 2 grades on average in a class which means that you will never get a progress 8 score above zero for your school unless you tackle it at all levels.

I found some interesting ideas (clearly many recycled but not currently implemented in many schools) in the EEF Improving Behaviour in School report (2019).

Usually schools will mainly focus on the positive factors behind Hattie’s 2009 research. However, I have chosen to quote the bottom part of his table of factors effecting pupil progress. 

A value of -0.5 is worth -1 grade and -2 is 2 grades below where they could be at.

So if you cannot crack the behaviour monster and put that one to bed you are never going to end up with a positive progress 8 score no matter how many fancy interventions and tracking models that you employ.

Hattie, J. (2009), Visible Learning. Routledge



Students studied

Ave Effect Size




– 0.01

In primaries, working on own projects as opposed to whole–class learning.




– 0.06




– 0.17

Keeping students back and re–doing a whole year again.




– 0.26




– 0.78


EEF – “6 Strand Approach”

The EEF have picked out 6 clear strands on how to manage behaviour in schools which are very simple and clear to work on;

All the ideas are worked out from research and guidance from all the leading figures in education.

The report gives lots of helpful tips for all educators which I think anyone leading on behaviour or classroom teachers needs to have a good read of and apply.

1 Know and understand your pupils and their influences

The key to all human interaction is understanding the person, the individual and their own driving forces;

  • Pupil behaviour has multiple influences, some of which teachers can manage directly
  • Understanding a pupil’s context will inform effective responses to misbehaviour
  • Every pupil should have a supportive relationship with a member of school staff


2 Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour

Humans and adolescents in particular tend to be habitual forming, crowd led and disruptive when not directed;

  • Teaching learning behaviours will reduce the need to manage misbehaviour
  • Teachers can provide the conditions for learning behaviours to develop by ensuring pupils can access the curriculum, engage with lesson content and participate in their learning
  • Teachers should encourage pupils to be self-reflective of their own behaviours


3 Use classroom management strategies to support good classroom behaviour

Positive control by the adult in the room is a bedrock of any behaviour system. It simply has to be there, every lesson, everyday and be very instantly visible;

  • Effective classroom management can reduce challenging behaviour, pupil disengagement, bullying and aggression
  • Improving classroom management usually involves intensive training with teachers reflecting on their classroom management, trying a new approach and reviewing their progress over time
  • Reward systems based on pupils gaining rewards can be effective when part of a broader classroom management strategy


4 Use simple approaches as part of your regular routine

It is often not a “magic” bullet that is fired and that sorts the problem but little improvements and tweaks to everything you do build up to a cumulative effect;

  • Some strategies that don’t require complex pedagogical changes have been shown to be promising later on
  • Breakfast clubs, use of specific behaviour-related praise and working with parents can all support good behaviour
  • School leaders should ensure the school behaviour policy is clear and consistently applied


5 Use targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in your school

Don’t get trapped by your own system. Just like the Criminal Justice System we invent a system which deals with the “majority” of people. A school can tweak things on the boundaries without bringing down the entire system. Be brave and flex where required;

  • Universal behaviour systems are unlikely to meet the needs of all your students
  • For pupils with more challenging behaviour, the approach should be adapted to individual needs
  • Teachers should be trained in specific strategies if supporting pupils with high behaviour needs


6 Consistency is Key

Where most system fall down is when SLT undermines the classroom teachers due to expediency, lack of care or a lack of will to see the project through. Whole school change can often be painful and difficult. In particular with some built in issues in certain areas;

  • Consistency and coherence at a whole-school level are paramount
  • Whole-school changes usually take longer to embed than individually tailored or single-classroom approaches
  • However, behaviour programmes are more likely to have an impact on attainment outcomes if implemented at a whole-school level


Behaviour in Schools 2021 (Staff INSET Power Point)

EEF_Improving_behaviour_in_schools_Report ( Report with huge detail and ideas for schools)

Education Endowment Foundation (Super Organisation for research)

Permanent link to this article: