Pupils’ behaviour is often the most pressing concern for teachers. This week we provide some general behaviour management strategies and also specific interventions for individual pupilspdf-7074119

SENCO Help Sheet 3 – Positive Behaviour Management Strategies.pdf

SENCO Support
As SENCO, you may find that colleagues call on you frequently for advice about pupils whose behaviour is cause for concern. Many SENCOs in fact, feel that this part of their role is disproportionate and prevents them from fulfilling other (and possibly more effective) duties. If you are one of these, it can be useful to consider a three-strand approach to the issue:

  • Review whole-school behaviour policy and practice. Is everyone familiar with it? Until this is effectively established, you will be swimming against the tide. Every teacher and TA should know, understand and consistently apply the system of rewards and sanctions.
  • Classroom strategies: every teacher needs to have a ‘tool box’ in this respect. Make sure that CPD regularly addresses this; no matter how experienced a teacher may be, there will always be a useful reminder, or a new idea for him/her to take away (see this week’s Help sheet). NQTs may need additional support.
  • Behaviour management has to be everyone’s responsibility, but you can support teachers in an interventional approach to an individual (see below).
  • An understanding of the ABC of behaviour management is essential and can be used to structure observations in the classroom and identify patterns of behaviour. It can also form the basis of a behaviour diary (see below).

A – Antecedents: the ‘triggers’
The aspects of the situation and/or environment that lead to the behaviour (positive and negative) such as:

  • Teacher behaviour − are staff welcoming, well prepared and organised; consistent and fair? Do they understand the individual needs of pupils?
  • The curriculum − are tasks matched to pupil needs, with appropriate ‘stretch and support’?
  • The lesson − do the students know what they are aiming to learn? Are there clear, achievable goals? Is there variety and opportunities to use different learning styles?
  • Rules − Are there clear ground rules for behaviour displayed in every room and regularly referred to?
  • An individual’s background − are teachers aware of circumstances that may be impacting on an individual? For example, the responsibilities borne by young carers; the implications of specific medical, psychological or neurological conditions.

B – Behaviour: what the child does
Negative behaviour may be expressed in a variety of ways and can be either low level (but persistent) or more challenging and episodic. It may include:

  • disrupting the work of others
  • calling/ shouting out/ answering back
  • leaving their seat and wandering around, or leaving the room
  • throwing, pulling, pushing, poking
  • refusal to work/not listening
  • not doing homework
  • destruction of work
  • verbal abuse
  • physical aggression
  • crying.

Such behaviour may be designed to:

  • gain attention
  • demonstrate power
  • avoid work − especially if it is too difficult, too easy or too boring
  • prevent the teacher and/or peers identifying a difficulty/inability.

C – Consequences: what happens next Pupils must understand and be able to anticipate consequences so that they can be responsible for their own plight. If they choose a certain course of action, they know that a particular consequence will follow. (You can choose to … and then … Or, you can … etc )

Positive consequences − praise and rewards for good behaviour, are much more powerful than sanctions for bad behaviour. ‘Catching them being good’ and praising them for it, will reinforce desirable behaviour, increase children’s self-esteem and demonstrate to other children exactly what you are hoping for. Give praise immediately and precisely. ‘You really listened well this morning and remembered to put up your hand instead of shouting out. Well done.’

ABC Diary







Melanie called me names

I lost my temper and punched her

The supervisor took me to Mr Smiths office. I missed lunch.


Last lesson

I forgot my Geog book. Mrs Banks said it wasn’t good enough.

I shouted and told her she was picking on me.




I asked Kerry to give me some of her crisps but she wouldn’t.

I snatched the bag from her and ran off.

She told on me. Sir said I was a thief.


After school

Melanie and the others followed me and called me names.

I threw stones at them.

Melanie’s mum has complained to the school. Mr Smith rang my dad.



The fat girl was crying.

I told her to stop snivelling and gave her some of my pop.

She said I was all right.

This works well when a teacher or support assistant can help the child to identify and record the ABCs . The diary then forms the focus of discussion between the teacher/tutor and the child each week. Ask the child to identify the positive/negative behaviours and consequences − could things have been handled better? What could be tried next time to avoid a negative outcome? Be sure to praise any positive behaviour and work towards the child achieving more positive consequences each time.

Individual behaviour plans (IBPs)

These can provide pupils with clear and achievable targets and help to identify and quantify progress: decide on the main priority and use specific objectives like the examples below.

Possible IBP targets:

  • To stay in seat for XX minutes at a time (increase time accordingly).
  • To bring books and equipment to lessons (score on daily basis).
  • To avoid touching other pupils’ work and equipment.
  • To walk away from someone who is unpleasant to you.
  • To practise using a quiet voice in class.
  • To finish the lesson/lunchtime/day without spitting/fighting/swearing etc.

Some pupils will require intervention over and above the whole-school system of behaviour management. These may include counselling and specific help such as:

  • flexible teaching arrangements (time out; small group working; one-to-one)
  • explicit teaching of social skills and emotional literacy
  • specialised behavioural and cognitive approaches (eg anger management)
  • re-challenging or re-focusing to diminish repetitive or self-injurious behaviour.

Every day on UK roads, nine people are killed and nearly ten times as many are seriously injured. It’s crucial to ensure that road safety education and training is appropriate and effective for all pupils, including those with special educational needs. A pack of resource material is now available to mark Road Safety Week (5-11 November) which includes:

  • information on some specific dangers faced by children with different types of SEN when using roads and potential obstacles to teaching road safety to pupils with the following disorders: attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); autistic spectrum disorder (ASD); dyspraxia (or developmental coordination disorder); and dyslexia
  • advice on teaching road safety to children with SEN, including adapting lesson ideas and resources and organising practical roadside training for pupils with SEN
  • advice on developing a school travel plan that takes the special educational needs of pupils into account.

This e-bulletin issue was first published in October 2007

About the author: Linda Evans is the author of SENCO Week. She was a teacher/SENCO/adviser/inspector, before joining the publishing world. She now works as a freelance writer, editor and part-time college tutor.