Learning Behaviour: Lessons Learned - A Review of Behaviour Standards and Practices in our Schools

Report cover

Report cover









What's this?

The behaviour in school of the large majority of children is good, as it always has been. Where instances of bad behaviour occur intervention must be swift, intelligent and effective. This intervention must protect the interests of the majority while aiming to change the behaviour of those causing the difficulties. This report presents the overall conclusions of Sir Alan Steer's review of pupil behaviour issues, announced in the Children's Plan. It builds on findings from the four interim reports between March 2008 and February 2009.


The report makes a total of 47 recommendations, grouped under three overall themes: legal powers and duties, supporting the development of good behaviour and Raising Standards Higher. I highlight some of the key conclusions and recommendations below.


The starting point of my report is that poor behaviour in schools cannot be tolerated and that both teachers and pupils have the right to work in an orderly environment. However while there is a legitimate concern in society about standards of behaviour of young people (as in earlier generations) there is strong evidence from a range of sources that the overall standards of behaviour achieved by schools is good and has improved in recent years. The steady rise in standards needs to be celebrated and the achievement of teachers and pupils recognised.

This progress also reflects the take-up and consistent application by schools of established good principles of behaviour management, as set out in the "What Works" advice of the former Practitioners' Group, as well as the implementation of the policy agenda set by the Group in 2005. Almost all of the Group's recommendations have been acted upon, as have recommendations from earlier stages of this review. One key outcome has been a considerable strengthening and clarification of the law on school discipline.

Legal powers and duties are considered on pages 27-33 of my report. I have not found evidence of a need or desire among the profession for schools to be given wider powers, but I do identify a need for a dissemination strategy to raise awareness and understanding of the powers that already exist. This includes the power to exercise discipline beyond the school gates which schools should work with wider partners, such as the police, to deliver. I also recommend reviewing the proposed wider legal power to search pupils within three years of it coming into force, to assess its use and evaluate if it is properly understood. On exclusions, I believe it vital that independent appeals panels are retained, in the interests of natural justice and to stop schools becoming embroiled in legal processes.


The need for consistent good quality teaching, as the basis for raising standards and reducing low level disruption, has been highlighted both by Ofsted and fellow practitioners. Following consultation with the professional associations, I make a key recommendation that all schools should be required to produce a written policy on learning and teaching, in order to ensure consistent high standards in the classroom and to support pupils and teachers. I also recommend a review of the range of policy documents that schools are asked to produce.

My report then moves on to consider what works in schools particularly in terms of supporting the development of good behaviour (pages 34-46 and 47-56). This includes an endorsement of the "What Works" good practice advice of the former Practitioners' Group, which is included as an annex to the report and which the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) at my request are also separately reprinting. My conclusions here relate to:


  • Schools and school staff - where I highlight the importance of early intervention including a recommendation that DCSF's current review of the Dedicated Schools Grant should consider how this can best be funded; of initial teacher training and continuing professional development (CPD); of Training Schools; and of the DCSF and professional  associations working together on disseminating good practice advice to schools. In particular, I recommend giving a greater emphasis to behaviour management training within the Training Schools programme and promoting greater involvement in the programme of schools for pupils with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) and Pupil Referral Units.


  • Pupils - where I recommend how schools can ensure appropriate engagement of and support for pupils and also recommend that an assessment is undertaken of the potential of nurture groups and other additional provision to support good pupil behaviour.


  • Parents - where I identify the potential to use and build on a range of existing initiatives, including Parent Support Advisers, Family Intervention Projects, on-line reporting and Family SEAL to support and strengthen the engagement of parents.


  • Behaviour and attendance partnerships - where, building on my previous report and reflecting further consultation with the teacher professional associations and other stakeholders, I specify the key characteristics one would expect to see in all partnerships.

While the great majority of schools are successfully achieving satisfactory or better standards of pupil behaviour, there is no room for complacency. Schools with satisfactory standards have potential to rise to the challenge to do even better. Instances of unacceptable behaviour by pupils and unacceptable performance by schools and Local Authorities also need to be tackled effectively. Raising Standards Higher (pages 57-68) sets out a number of conclusions relating to:


  • Schools - a particularly significant recommendation in this part of the report is about the Local Authority not only prioritising support for schools with unsatisfactory behaviour but also the Local Authority seeing an Ofsted judgement of satisfactory behaviour as a trigger for additional support. I also recommend that the most recent Ofsted inspection grade for behaviour should be included on the school report card as well as making recommendations about how to ensure good quality Day 6 provision for excluded pupils. The requirement to make such provision followed a recommendation of the Practitioners' Group and has been a challenge for schools. My report includes
    practical examples of successful, effective local provision.


  • Pupils - where I focus particularly on the need for effective early intervention when pupil misbehaviour occurs and set guidelines for when the withdrawal of pupils from the classroom is necessary. Withdrawal should be for the minimum time necessary to assess need and to effect a change in behaviour, and I recommend that DCSF should define best practice for all forms of out of classroom provision.


  • Parents - where I advise on more consistent use of parenting contracts and dissemination of a chart which DCSF has produced with the teacher professional associations and other stakeholders summarising the rights and responsibilities of schools, parents and pupils for school discipline.


  • Local Authorities and Children's Trusts - a key recommendation here is that behaviour and attendance partnerships should provide an annual report to their local Trust. Children's Trusts, in turn, need to improve access to child and adolescent mental health services (CAHMS). DCSF, for its part, should consider how to support and challenge Local Authorities with disproportionately high exclusions and DCSF guidance should particularly address the issue of repeat fixed-period of exclusions. While I support the right of schools to exclude, where a school keeps excluding the same child this clearly indicates that the strategy is not working. Local Authorities must meet their obligation to provide education from day 6 for permanently excluded pupils and ensure that schools do the same for those excluded for a fixed term.

Improving behaviour is a shared responsibility between government, schools and other local partners together with parents and pupils themselves. The conclusions and recommendations resulting from this review confirm and should help onsolidate the good progress being made.

Article published to :


Key Stage, Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Primary, Secondary

Type of Resource

Reports, Research

Publisher :


Article Id :


Date Posted: