Improving Behaviour for Learning (Secondary Schools)

The following 10 situtations (located on the left) are from a resource (Improving Behaviour for Learning for Secondary Schools) which explores the ways in which a teacher's behaviour impacts on that of her pupils.

Each Scenario the classroom teacher (Kath) asks her work colleagues how they manage a particular situation. This is followed by Kath demonstrating this approach, a commentary and a set of additional observations, comprising a series of discussion points for trainees (and new teachers).

The extracts can be used flexibly by tutors and mentors to illustrate particular themes or approaches. They can also be a means of starting discussion amongst trainees on specific aspects of behaviour that they might have encountered or may be anticipating prior to a school-placement.


Joyner School is a popular, urban, mixed comprehensive school with specialist language college status. There are 1550 pupils on roll, including 426 in the sixth form. The proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals is slightly above the national average. Most pupils are of white British heritage, however significant proportions are from Asian and African Caribbean heritages. The proportion of pupils who speak English as an additional language (EAL) is higher than average, but EAL learners are seldom at an early stage of learning English. The proportion of pupils with Special Educational Needs and disabilities is around the national average. Joyner School includes pupils with a wide range of needs, including physical disabilities, learning difficulties, social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, communication difficulties and sensory impairments.

Joyner School achieves results that are in line with the national average in end of key stage tests and GCSE and Advanced Level examinations. The school is regarded as being well-led and well-managed. The quality of teaching and learning is mostly good throughout the school. High quality teaching and pupils' positive attitudes towards their studies, contribute to the school's success and popularity.

Pupils' attitudes towards school are good. They are keen and enthusiastic and take full advantage of the wide range of opportunities that are available. Staff create a secure environment in which pupils are motivated to learn. Behaviour in and outside the classroom is generally good and there are relatively few exclusions. Most pupils show respect and concern for each other, for staff and for the school environment. Parents generally rate behaviour as good, although they have concerns about the behaviour of a small minority of pupils who, they feel, influence others and lower standards.

There is a wide range of enrichment and extra-curricular activities which often involve the wider community in the life of the school to the benefit of pupils These include sporting and musical activities and others, such as drama, community languages, chess and homework clubs and exercise classes. Exchange visits with French and German pupils, study visits to France and work experience in Germany all provide pupils with opportunities for direct experience of a modern language. The Year 7 languages club also provides Year 13 pupils with an opportunity to act as peer tutors. Many pupils take part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. A wide variety of work programmes enable Year 10 and Year 11 pupils to gain ASDAN Bronze and Silver level accreditation in key skills.

8PT Class

8PT are a middle ability mathematics class. Although the classes in Joyner School are taught in ability groups, about 60% of the class find themselves in similar lessons for the core subjects. In general the group dynamics are positive and there are no real clashes between individuals. There are friendships within and between groups of boys and girls. Two of the pupils are 'looked after' by the local authority. There is one pupil with a Statement of Special Educational Needs and four pupils at 'School Action' as defined in the SEN Code of Practice.

The individuals in the videos

Kirsty lives at home with her mum and her young brothers and sisters. She is often called upon to look after the two youngest children as her mum has just started a new job in a dry cleaning firm. Unfortunately, because of the shift patterns, Kirsty has had a fair amount of absence in the past couple of months.

Kirsty really enjoys school, especially socialising with her friends. She also enjoys the praise that she can get from teachers, although sometimes she can get into trouble for speaking too quickly and doing things just to get the teacher's attention. She enjoys being the centre of attention with her peers. At times in the past, Kirsty has responded very well to reward and incentive schemes and still greatly enjoys them. Kirsty says that she enjoys all lessons apart from any where the teacher is too bossy. See Kirsty's attendance record above - click to view a large version.

Sally lives at home with her mum and dad. Things have been building up at home in the past few weeks and the issues of domestic violence, that have been simmering over the past few years, came to head over the weekend when mum kicked dad out the house. Dad came back in the middle of the night and the police had to be called.

Sally has never really liked coming to school because she is afraid of what is going on at home. When she is at school and she is able to concentrate, she does well, but her progress has been slow and punctuated by absence. Sally has one or two really good female friends in whom she confides. It is only because of what has happened over the weekend that she has spoken to anyone at school about her difficulties. On the morning of this lesson, she chose to confide in a learning mentor who often comes into her morning tutor group. The learning mentor is seeing her at lunchtime. Sally will take one of her good friends along to the meeting.

Victoria lives at home with her mum and dad. She enjoys school, despite initial difficulties, with her visual impairment. Mr Dhillon, the SENCO, got involved and helped the teachers put materials together for Victoria. He also helped Victoria to develop ways of 'coping' in class - helping her to remember to bring and use her lenses, making sure that she sits where she can see the board clearly. Since that time, she has really started to flourish and, in the last few months, her confidence has developed. She is popular with her peers, and they will often choose to sit next to her because she can nearly always do the work. Her favourite lessons are English and Maths.

Jason lives at home with his mum and dad and three brothers. He often finds that, in class, he can pick things up quickly, and his main complaint about some lessons is that they are boring. In year 7, he was keen to do well and was rarely in serious trouble, apart form the odd detention for not doing his homework. However, since the start of Year 8 he has found himself, increasingly, in large amounts of trouble. He has a good relationship with his Head of Year who has put him 'on report' to try to keep himself out of mischief. Jason is not keen on the report card, but has gone along with it as he knows that the positive comments will be fed back to his parents.

Jason's targets, set by the Head of Year in discussion with Jason, are: 1. I will speak politely to all. 2. I will stay focused on the learning task. 3. I will arrive at my lesson on time and settle quickly. Jason is generally a popular boy with his peers, although at times he can be unpleasant to those he sees as weaker than himself. His favourite lessons are Science, RE and PE.

Mike lives at home with his mum and dad. He is a popular boy with both staff and pupils, although some teachers can find his laid-back manner rather irritating. He enjoys school and works hard at what he does. He particularly enjoys sport and is in most school teams. He can often get into trouble for being the class clown. Recently, with a little help from his tutor, he has been working on knowing when to draw the line with his clowning before he gets into trouble with the teacher. His favourite lessons are PE and Science.

Billy lives at home with his mum and dad. He has a Statement of Special Educational Needs, which was put in place following a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome. Billy has difficulties socialising, but he has known many of those in his class since he was young. Because of his increasing difficulties in coping in class and around school Billy has missed a great deal of schooling in the past two years. It is only in the past half term that the resources and support have been available to enable him to be included in the school. When discussing his inclusion in mainstream classes, it emerged that corridor noise and bustle were a real problem for Billy. Therefore, with the help of his teaching assistant, Mrs Latimer, Billy now leaves lessons a few minutes early and arrives to class a little later than the others, when the class has settled. Pupils in his class are aware of his difficulties, and a group of 'buddies' has been developed to help him develop social skills. His most recent target is to acknowledge and greet people around him. Billy's favourite lesson at the moment is art. Click on the Microsoft Word document symbols above to view Billy's Statement of Special Educational Needs and his Individual Education Plan.

Ryan lives at home with his mum and step-dad. He doesn't really enjoy school and feels that he is bullied. He will often go home and complain. His mum has been to school a number of times to try to get it sorted out. Ryan does have one or two close friends. He rarely gets into much trouble at school and often keeps a low profile in the classroom so the teacher won't notice him. He has difficulty reading and, when asked, says that he can't read. This means he often gets distracted and rarely completes a learning task.

Anita lives at home with her family. She enjoys school and finds that she can do most of the work fairly comfortably. She is popular with her peers. She has a strong sense of right and wrong and can be extremely verbal in her disapproval of anything she sees as unjust. This sometimes gets her into trouble at school. Anita is perceptive, and will quite often be extremely cheeky to teachers in a subtle, subversive way. She can also be sensitive and will stick up for the underdog. Anita wants to be a journalist and knows that exam success is important, but her understanding of the need for qualifications is not always matched by the effort she puts in to her work. Her favourite lessons are English and PSHE.

Tom lives at home with his mum, her partner and his elder brother. He tends to hang around with a group of boys who are generally quite immature. While this group is not confrontational, they often get in trouble for play fighting and being late to lessons. Tom enjoys most lessons but his favourites are Science, Design and Technology and French.

Peter lives with his mum and younger brother. He dislikes school and likes to keep a low profile. He particularly dislikes teachers whom he perceives as just 'bossing him around'. The best reason to come to school for Peter is the other pupils, especially the girls. He rarely gets into trouble in a big way, but will often get detentions for not doing his homework. He is often late to school, coming in by himself half an hour after everybody else. When he is keen on a topic or a subject he has shown that he is very capable and has produced some class work of a very high standard. He has a real interest in the alternative music scene and wants to start a band. He plays the electric guitar. Peter doesn't have a favourite subject.

Matthew lives with his Gran and Grandad. He has recently returned to school after a long absence following intervention from the Educational Welfare Officer (EWO). He finds the work in school difficult and tends to daydream in the class. He has received some help from the learning support department in the past, but due to his poor attendance this has not been delivered over a sustained period. Since his attendance has become more regular he has starting to develop friendships with other pupils, but still has no close friends, although he gets on well with Amy. He has no special preference for any of the lessons although he is keener on lessons where the teacher shows him kindness and helps him with his work.

Maureen is an experienced teaching assistant who has worked at Joyner School for the last two years. She has a particular interest in autistic spectrum disorders. As well as the DCSF induction training for teaching assistants, she has received additional training to work with pupils with autistic spectrum disorders in mainstream classes.

She shows initiative, and pupils respond well to her. The teaching staff respect and welcome her specialist knowledge and support. For a short period, she has been assigned to work closely with Billy White, while he becomes acclimatised to mainstream classes. She has recently taken on a leadership role within the teaching assistant team.

Kath is in her second year of teaching, but new to Joyner School. She is concerned that she will not be able to manage 8PT and has asked her colleagues in the mathematics department what works for them.