Behaviour Improvement Programmes



In its broadest sense, this can be taken to mean any systematic school, Local Authority or national programme which is aimed at improving the behaviour of pupils in schools.  In a UK context, the government sponsored Behaviour Improvement Programme (DfES, 2002 ) was one of the most high profile and generously funded initiatives in this field, albeit a very wide ranging and multi-stranded one. The Behaviour 4 Learning IPRN (Initial Teacher Education Professional Resource Network) is another major educational initiative in the field of pupil behaviour and its relationship to pupil well being and educational achievement, but it might be thought of as not having the prescriptive elements associated with the original ‘programmes'. For the purposes of this glossary item, the main focus will be on providing basic information on the 2002 DfES funded Behaviour Improvement Programme as this is likely to be of most interest and relevance to initial ITE trainees. The terminology and materials of the BIP (though not of Behaviour4Learning) are being phased out, but will still be found in schools and LAs for some time, and they do inform more recent developments.  Readers may wish to look at School Behaviour and Attendance Partnerships which were set up by the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act (2009) and are likely to have a considerable impact on Secondary School practice in the future.




The Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP) was set up by the (then) DfES in July 2002 as part of the Government's Street Crime Initiative. Although direct funding for the initiative ended in 2006, the programme remained a central element of the government's National Behaviour and Attendance Strategy.

The overall objective of the programme was to improve poor behaviour and attendance in schools in areas where these issues were considered to constitute significant barriers to learning and pupil progress for all or most learners within a school. The programme involved a conscious attempt to provide additional resources to schools with acute behaviour and attendance problems. With the resources provided, local authorities piloted a range of ways of supporting children most at risk of exclusion, truancy or criminal behaviour. More specific objectives included:

  • improving standards of behaviour overall;
  • reducing truancy;
  • securing lower levels of exclusion for schools involved in the programme;
  • ensuring that there would be a named key worker for every child at risk of truancy, exclusion or criminal behaviour in programme schools;
  • ensuring the availability of full-time supervised education for all pupils from day one of either permanent or temporary exclusion.

In terms of strategies for achieving these objectives, the initiative developed a range of approaches, including the development of multi-agency Behaviour and Education Support Teams (BESTs), now sometimes called Targeted Youth Support Teams, the introduction of ‘Lead Behaviour Professionals' in schools, the development of behaviour audits to monitor progress in behaviour and attendance issues, the ‘Police in Schools' initiative, the development of ‘extended' or ‘full service' schools to cater for pupils outside ‘standard' school time, learning support units, experiments with alternative curricula and provision for excluded pupils, the provision of learning mentors for ‘at risk' pupils, and a range of strategies for tackling truancy - extending electronic registration, increasing ‘truancy sweeps' and Educational Welfare Officer provision, and providing attendance advisors and learning mentors for targeted pupils.

An evaluation of the programme in 2005 (Hallam et al., 2005) pointed to the difficulty in ascribing changes in exclusions and attendance figures to the BIP specifically in view of the variables involved (for instance, the difference in approaches to excluding pupils across schools), and concluded that it had not been possible to monitor in any systematic and quantitative way the impact of BIP on behaviour in school. However, the evaluation provided an indication of the way that change in behaviour may have occurred as a result of the programme with case study examples of individual and groups of pupils. These were collected in school visits and interviews with school and LEA staff. The report concluded that the programme had an impact in part because it served to raise the profile of issues relating to behaviour and pastoral care in schools, and because it had led to a more coherent and coordinated approach to problems of behaviour and attendance in the schools involved.

The programme also developed a raft of training materials and ‘toolkits' 


Relevance for teachers


The elements of the BIP, which are listed above, form an important part of the strategy of schools to improve behaviour and attendance. Many of the BIP initiatives and training materials were adopted and applied by the National Strategies Behaviour and Attendance Strand and are still in widespread use. It is likely that new materials will be made available to continue and develop this work. "Learning Behaviour" based on the Steer Report, and materials available on the Behaviour4Learning website will take the work further.


Indicative reading


Canter, L and Canter, M. (1992) Assertive discipline: Positive behavior management for today's classroom, Santa Monica, CA: Canter and Associates.

 DfES (2002) Behaviour Improvement Programme, London, DfES. Online at:

Hallam, S., Castle, F and Rogers, L. (2005) Research and Evaluation of the Behaviour Improvement Programme, London, Institute of Education.  (RR702) Online at:

 Learning Behaviour from:

Barrow, G., Bradshaw, E. and Newton, T. (2001) Improving behaviour and raising self-esteem in the classroom, London: David Fulton Publishers

Article published to :


Foundation, Key Stage, Middle, Primary, Secondary

Authors :

Terry Haydn

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