The last few weeks have been incredibly fruitful, with a great deal of energy, time and thinking being spent developing policies and toolkits for the school. These include staff focused policies outlining procedures for recruitment and selection, processes for pay and performance management, and child focused policies considering learning needs, inclusion and admission procedures.
A total of 19 policies have been written so far, nine of which have toolkits with all the necessary forms and templates to put the policy in to action. All the policies have been developed in line with our philosophy and values.
In this blog, we will focus on one area which Phil and I (Rach) found particularly challenging, but – once we’d dialogued it – extremely encouraging.
Our ‘Behaviour for Learning’ Policy
A ‘standard’ behaviour policy seems to include ways to reward good behaviour and consequences for bad behaviour. Interestingly, research suggests that rewards can actually have a negative impact on learning and intrinsic motivation. Lindon and Brodie (2016, p.205) explain how rewards communicate to a child that completing an activity results in a reward, rather than completing it because it’s interesting. Mason (1989, p.11) emphasises how prizes and marks can ‘eliminate that knowledge-hunger’ which is ‘itself the quite sufficient incentive to education’.
We have been influenced by educational theories, and believe that all children are curious, intelligent, creative beings with an innate desire to learn. Which is why, in establishing a school, we aim to encourage and support all children to become life-long learners. Research shows that rewarding children for doing what is natural can be counter productive.
So what are the alternatives? How do we create a school which is a happy and safe place, where everyone can be a successful learner?
Through our reading, research and reflection we’ve come to recognise that ‘success’ has to be the responsibility of the whole school community. Staff will provide a stimulating environment, provoking learning and discovery, where children can interact in meaningful ways with their peers and adults. The school will develop a culture of encouragement, creating consistent schoolwide expectations to enable all children to be free and thrive. Teachers will encourage children by recognising and celebrating what has been done well, encouraging perseverance and improvement. Finally, children will develop reflection and self-evaluation skills. Children will have the opportunity to celebrate their own ‘success’ each day by considering what they are thankful for, what they have learnt or what they appreciate in someone else.
Although our policy does outline procedures to follow when dealing with various forms of inappropriate behaviour, our experience and research tells us that when children are in a stimulating environment, and teachers – in partnership with children – are determining what should be learned and how best to learn it, behaviour problems tend to be minimised.