At Carshalton High School For Girls, good behaviour is the foundation for successful learning.
We have been through unprecedented times over the last two years and during the first lockdown we set about overhauling our systems and started work on creating a culture of behaviour that reflected our motto of ‘excellence: everywhere, every day’ so that when school re-opened we would provide students with a stable learning environment to return to after being away from classrooms for so long. Central to this work was to consider how we could change and adapt our current behaviour systems. The vision we aspired to achieve was ‘disruption free classrooms’ as we know that effective learning can only take place when all students are focused and ready to learn. To this end, members of the Senior Leadership Team and the Pastoral Team worked to create a system that facilitated our vision. Key to this was creating a simple approach to behaviour both in terms of the systems, but also just as important was creating a curriculum that taught students why good behaviour is key to their success as well as what good behaviour looks like.
We streamlined our approach to dealing with unacceptable behaviour in the classroom by establishing clear routines that were easily understood by students, staff and parents. We established that routines were key in creating the culture we wanted in the classroom. Students needed to know what they are expected to do in the school, whether that be in the classroom or corridor. We felt students would need reminders (and in some cases an introduction) to exactly what was expected of them regardless of the subject, teacher or time of day. We created a simple guide for staff around class expectations which included guidelines on meeting and greeting students (standing behind chairs, saying good morning and afternoon and our Do-Now activity). This was designed to form good habits which we constantly reminded students of through proactive dialogue until they got it right. We believed that with this method, students would start to form good habits, and that these habits would become routine, with students behaving the way they need to behave automatically. Routines are the foundation of good behaviour. They take time to communicate and imbed. But nothing was worth our time more when seeking to establish good behaviour.
Giving the students a simple choice of either being in their classrooms learning or, if they disrupt, learning away from their peers, gave teachers ownership of the classroom and re-established the culture that the adults are in charge after so long away. By creating this simple approach backed up with streamlined systems, teachers are not having to spend time on behaviour administration which allows them more time to develop their own practice which ultimately enhances their teaching and the students’ learning. Consistency has always been key and with over 100 staff, behaviour systems can be interpreted in different ways, however, our new simple the system has minimised variation and this has led to greater consistency, resulting in students knowing what we expect. A key characteristic of Carshalton High School For Girls are classrooms full of students ready to learn. The feedback that we have had from the Student Council is overwhelmingly positive, with students liking the clarity they have about boundaries, expectations and consequences.
The enhanced behaviour system has proved to be a bedrock for developing effective learning behaviours. It has created the environment for some of our other work on aspects such as No-Hands Up questioning, No-Opt Out, SLANT, SHAPE, STEPS and metacognition. Through our Pastoral Development Programme we have given considerable time to teaching students about good behaviour because at Carshalton High School For Girls, good behaviour is not just a list of sanctions and rewards, it is culture of attributes we want our students to have, which enables students to be successful in the classroom from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5 and in the wider society in which they live.