Case study

The role of senior leaders: encouraging good behaviour

How the headteacher and teachers at 2 different secondary schools work together to promote good behaviour.


Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic School (Burnley)

The school is for 11- to 16-year-olds. Pupils come from both privileged and deprived backgrounds. Approximately one-fifth of pupils are eligible for the pupil premium, and the vast majority come from white British backgrounds. In 2011 the school was rated as ‘inadequate’ in behaviour by Ofsted, but in 2013 the school was rated ‘requires improvement’ with behaviour rated as ‘good’.

Head’s breakfast

The headteacher introduced the head’s breakfast on his arrival at the school. Once a week the headteacher meets with a targeted group of 8 to 12 pupils from a particular cohort, for example free school meals, special educational needs or top set pupils.

Pupils are offered a sandwich and the headteacher asks them:

  • What is your favourite lesson?
  • What would you change about this school if you could?
  • Does bullying happen in this school?

Initially these sessions were an opportunity for the head to get to know the pupils and vice versa. Now they are a useful forum for pupils to raise issues, feel they are listened to and for staff to hear about the school from a pupil’s point of view.

Listening to staff

Soon after the ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating, the school set up the staff strategy group which included a local authority advisor, senior staff, governors, teachers, and non-teaching staff. This group gave classroom teachers and support staff the opportunity to:

  • share their actual experiences of behaviour in the classroom and around the school building
  • enable senior staff to share their vision for the school

Together, they wrote the behaviour stages system and set out the expectations of pupils both in and out of class.

Since making an improvement in the school, the strategy group no longer exists but there are other opportunities for staff to have a say. The school started an annual staff survey, which is followed up with an ‘open staff meeting’ to discuss issues that emerged in the survey results. In 2011, the survey found that only 38% of staff felt that behaviour was well managed, compared to 90% a year later.

‘Ladder’ of detentions

Senior staff are visible to both pupils and classroom teachers in managing behaviour. They implemented a ‘ladder’ of detentions for pupils who do not turn up for their detentions. At each step, the detention is escalated to a more senior member of staff.

The first detention is with the class teacher who is disciplining the pupil for poor behaviour in their lesson
If the pupil does not attend, they are given a detention with the curriculum leader for that particular subject
If this detention is not attended, they are given a detention with a senior member of staff

This ‘head’s detention’ is reserved for the most serious cases or for pupils who have failed to attend previous curriculum detentions.

If the pupil fails to attend a ‘head’s detention’ the school arranges a meeting with the parents to discuss and to arrange a new date. Should the pupil fail to attend a second time they will spend the following day in the inclusion unit.

Humphrey Perkins School (Loughborough)

A rural school with pupils from both privileged and deprived backgrounds. The proportion of pupils eligible for the pupil premium and those from an ethnic minority are both below the national average. In 2012 Ofsted rated the school ‘inadequate’ in behaviour, and a year later it had improved and was rated ‘good’ in behaviour and overall.

Visibility of senior staff

The school makes sure that senior staff and the headteacher are a visible and personal presence. Senior staff:

  • meet pupils at the train station
  • welcome pupils into school
  • are around at the lunch queue and break times
  • see them at the end of the day

Staff can nominate a behaviour ‘hotspot’ and ask a senior member of staff to drop in on a lesson where behaviour is not as good as it should be.

Vision and values

The school encourages good behaviour by promoting a strong positive vision for the school and high expectations for every pupil. This is regularly reinforced by all staff. There is an 8-year plan to become the best school. The school has 5 key values that are incorporated into all aspects of school life, they are:

  • world-class learners
  • serve others
  • honesty, integrity and professionalism
  • no ceiling to achievement
  • children first
Published 25 March 2014