Case Study

Creating a Positive Behaviour Culture in our School

Pobalscoil Neasáin
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One School’s Journey

Pobalscoil Neasáin is a Dublin Community School with 800 students and 80 staff. In this case study, Karol Sadleir, a deputy principal that coordinates the programme in her school, details their school journey, how it began and how it is impacting the work they are doing in the area of behaviour management.

In May 2021, we surveyed parents, students, teachers, SNAs, and the SMT. We asked three simple questions:

  1. What factors contribute to the aspects of the school that are working well?
  2.  What factors hinder us as a school community from doing better?
  3. What support would be helpful?

What came back was a shared desire to improve our approaches to managing behaviour, and we decided to make this our focus.

We contacted a behavioural expert, who talked us through what she believed was the best approach. It involved forming a team of people to drive the initiative. She recommended we limit the numbers to six to eight people, with representation from the student's voice, additional educational needs, an AP1, an AP2, someone in their first three years of teaching and a member of the SMT. We added an SNA as we felt they have a unique perspective on behaviour in our school. We agreed that this would be a three-year plan. We wanted it to be as meaningful and empowering as possible and, most importantly, sustainable.

At this point, I contacted Fiona Richardson. I knew she was the leading light in Ireland in this area. Following discussions with school leaders from other schools, I realised that many of us had similar concerns around behaviour. This got me thinking about the possibility of pursuing a programme that all schools could benefit from.

The Examcraft Group with Fiona Richardson agreed to design a course on behaviour that would cater for all schools and teachers. PSN agreed to pilot it. Almost a year later, with the expertise of Fiona Richardson, a bespoke course unlike any other now exists in the area of Positive Behaviour Management for Learning. 

So, how are we engaging with the course and why?

We currently have 22 teachers in our school taking the course. Each teacher, prior to fortnightly meetings, reads the material independently and then the group meets for 30 minutes every second Friday to discuss each chapter or part of a chapter. It’s a bit like a book club. This session happens at lunchtime and is facilitated by one of the teachers on the Positive Behaviour for Learning team.

The response has been hugely positive. It is enabling us to build capacity in this very tricky area. It has meant that we are openly sharing issues and collectively problem solving, all of which is supported by the most up-to-date research in this area. The teachers who have accessed the course now share a language, knowledge and understanding of this area which enables them to constructively engage in conversations that can move our focus forward.

The course clearly outlines the link between understanding behaviour (both teacher and student) and the impact this has on everyone’s learning experience in the class/school. It delves into all areas of behaviour, from relationships, classroom rules, routines and consequences, to school-wide approaches and more specialised approaches for the outliers in the school. It has given us a roadmap of what to do and the confidence to make it happen. 

From the point of view of senior management, it is enabling us to build capacity in the hugely misunderstood area of behaviour management. We can now build on teacher experiences and expertise and challenge some of our perceptions, practices and behaviour. This course supports professional development that promotes reflection within a school context and, in my mind, has the potential to affect real change in this area.

We intend to use it as part of our induction of new teachers and to run the study group again next year with a new cohort.

We have also offered teachers the opportunity to study the course independently and at their own pace.

If you or your school are having issues in the area of behaviour management, and you have decided to do something about it, this course is for you.

Karol Sadlier

Deputy Principal

Creating a Positive Behaviour Culture in Schools

Developed by behaviour expert Fiona Richardson in conjunction with school leader Karol Sadleir, this programme is designed to support you in creating a positive, safe and effective learning environment at both school and classroom levels. It is based on the best evidence-informed and evidence-based practices to equip teachers with the tools they need to cultivate positive behaviour in their classrooms.
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