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Behaviour Management in Schools and Wellbeing Dr H i lary Cremin Faculty of Education. Wellbeing. Beyond basic needs such as food and shelter: What are the elements of a ‘ good life ’ ? What do people who are thriving do, value and feel?.

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Behaviour Management in Schools and Wellbeing

Dr Hilary Cremin

Faculty of Education


Beyond basic needs such as food and shelter:

  • What are the elements of a ‘good life’?

  • What do people who are thriving do, value and feel?

The Five Ways to Mental Wellbeing

Findings from the Foresight Research Project on Mental Capital and Wellbeing Funded by Department of Business Innovation and Skills July 2006 - October 2008

How do we work towards this in schools?

  • Through the curriculum?

  • Through our behaviour management policy and practice?

Behaviour Management Strategies

School behaviour management can be broadly divided into 3 types:

  • Authoritarian

  • Behaviourist

  • Self-discipline / child-centred



for behaviour



for behaviour




for behaviour



for behaviour




for behaviour



for behaviour

Self Discipline / child-centred

Insights from Criminology

The Restorative Discipline Window (Costello, B. Wachtel, J. & Wachtel, T. (2009) The Restorative Practices Handbook, Bethlehem: IIRP Wachel,

High control

Low control

Low supportHigh support

Insights from Peace Studies

  • Three forms of violence:




  • Positive and negative peace

    Negative – absence of direct violence

    Positive – absence of structural and cultural violence

  • Three ways of bringing about peace:




    Galtung, J. (1970). Pluralism and the future of human society. Challenges for the future: Proceedings from the Second International Futures Research Conference, Norway, 271-308.


Peace Education: Integrating well-being and child-centered discipline

Peace-keeping (negative peace - reactive)

  • CCTV and metal detectors

  • Code of conduct / home-school contracts

  • Militarization of schooling

  • Authoritarian behavior management

  • Behaviorist interventions

Authoritarian Behaviour Management

………….why it can be counter-productive…..

Findings from research…….

Authoritarian Behaviour Management : findings from a photoethnographic study of an urban secondary school

Dr Hilary Cremin, University of Cambridge

Co-investigator: Dr Hugh Busher, Leicester University

Research Associate: Dr Carolynne Mason, Cambridge University

Research Project funded by the British Academy 2007-2009

The case study school

  • 11-16 Secondary School serving an area of urban disadvantage.

  • 30% of pupils have learning difficulties or disabilities, almost twice the national average.

  • Many pupils are from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds and 25% are eligible for free school meals.

  • A significant number of pupils join the school at different stages in all year groups from across the city and from further afield.


  • We worked with a top and bottom set English class, a mixed ability Citizenship class, and a small number of pupils in an inclusion unit

  • We created a unit of work around themes of identity and schooling. This involved the 13 and 14 year olds taking photographs and making scrapbooks to represent their views.

  • Teachers selected 42 ‘engaged’ and ‘disaffected’ pupils from the four classes as candidates for the research project, and 14 of these were interviewed in depth talking about their scrapbooks.

  • The teachers of these classes were also asked to produce a scrapbook, which formed the basis of an interview.

  • Senior teachers (deputy principals and the Citizenship co-ordinator) were interviewed at the start of the project to elicit their views of pupil voice, and the other areas of school policy that related to the project.


  • Performativity

  • Judgement

  • Surveillance

Surveillance: CCTV

Surveillance: CCTV

Surveillance: Prison

Surveillance: Teachers as police

Student OR: “It’s the older ones go first, at smoking, then some other group will come along and then another and then another.”

Class teacher AE: “Break duty, I do one down in the hall, so I do that, and I do one up on the field, which is basically telling all the smokers to go further away from me so that I can't see who they are. If I can see who they are I will report them.  Yeah so, no I don't allow any smoking, as long as I can see your face.”

Surveillance: Teachers under scrutiny

Class teacher AE: “People sitting at the back ticking boxes as to how you teach.  You've got to do a starter, you've got to do the three tasks in the middle including V.A.K, including all these acronyms, and come up with a plenary. Let me get on and teach!  Just trust me, I’ll get on and do it!”

Surveillance: Policy as teacher regulation

Senior teacher IA: “In terms of working practice I don’t think there is any dissidence. Not at all, because, you know, the way we guide staff to be and behave and work and so on, they are…they do directly or indirectly, follow the policy. There is no dissonance there. No-one sort of argues about what we ask them to do or how we ask them to do it.”

Class teacher EH: “But I think that’s a big problem with our policies, that you read them and sometimes – often! – you don’t have a clue what they’re talking about!”

OfSted and self surveillance

Since 2006, through its “new relationship with schools”, OfSted have instigated inspection procedures that are more ‘light touch’ than before. ‘Good’ schools can now expect shorter and less infrequent inspections.,

Schools are now expected to collate and analyse their own data through a self-evaluation process. The role of Inspections is to verify the school’s systems of self-analysis.

Schools causing concern can expect an inspection at any time, at short notice. The need to self-evaluate, and to manage the image of the school has become a matter of survival.

It pervades every area of school life.

Foucault and self surveillance (1979)

“Throughout the penal procedure and the implementation of the sentence there swarms a whole series of subsidiary authorities. Small scale legal systems and parallel judges have multiplied around the principle judgement: psychiatric or psychological experts, magistrates concerned with the implementation of the sentence, educationalists, members of the prison service, all fragment the legal power to punish…”

Foucault, 1979: 21

Peace-making (reactive)

  • Peer mediation

  • Restorative justice

  • Anti-bullying initiatives

  • Programs such as anger management, circle of friends, counseling

Child-centered Discipline

………….why it can be transformative…....

Findings from research…….

Peer mediation Conference November 2001: Research findings

  • Hosted by Stanville JI School, Birmingham, UK. Located at the Pergamon Hotel, Digbeth, Birmingham

  • Involved 60 peer mediators aged between 9 and 11 years old from 15 Birmingham schools known to have successful peer mediation services for a number of years

  • Attended by the chief education officer for Birmingham LEA, Prof. Tim Brighouse and by the secretary of state for education, Estelle Morris

Data Collection

  • Audit of service profiles (children standing up and being counted!)

  • Group interview with teachers

  • Pupil questionnaires

Profile of successful peer mediation services (1)

Profile of successful peer mediation services (2)

Teacher discussion group findings

  • Pupil empowerment

  • Whole school approach

  • Resources

  • Support

  • Choice, rewards and incentives

  • Pro-social skills training

Pupil Questionnaire findings

  • Do you do Circle Time in your school?

  • 100 % Yes

Pupil questionnaire: Do pupils make good mediators?

  • “yes, because children have been taught what to do.”

  • “yes, children don’t ignore arguments and fights, and they are trained.”

  • “yes, they help and don’t take sides, don’t shout, don’t tell other people, and don’t tell them what to do.”

  • “yes, because we won’t take sides, only children mediate.”

How has mediation helped your school?

  • It is a friendlier, happier place (15)

  • Less arguments (3)

  • Reduced bullying (3)

  • Teachers and lunchtime supervisors freed (2)

Peace-building (proactive)

  • Pro-social skills development (social and emotional aspects of learning, Peace Circles)

  • Peace Circles for adult teams

  • Public spaces and events in schools celebrate achievement, inclusion and diversity

  • Balanced curriculum

Curriculum and Pedagogy for Peace-building

  • History and social studies that focus on the reality of mainly peaceful and respectful human relations in families, villages, communities and international exchange

  • Life-long learning for wellbeing and human development, not for accountability and high stakes testing

  • Active learning in cooperative contexts

  • Key markers…… Choice, freedom, support, community involvement, participation, engagement, health, flexible groupings, time for reflection…….

Relationships for Peace-building

  • Peace Circles (adults and youth) to build teams, strengthen diverse relationship and prevent problems

  • Child-centered, collaborative discipline (not teacher-centered or directive)

  • Strong links with the community, including opportunities for apprenticeship, learning from elders, international linking

School Structure and Organization for Peace-building

  • Flexible and vertical grouping for teaching and learning

  • Enhanced ICT and learning in other spaces (public libraries, art galleries, local businesses and charities…..)

  • Individualized mentoring and support, especially for struggling teachers and vulnerable youth

  • Organic, responsive, eco-systemic management structures

  • Opportunities for creativity, freedom and career development for excellent teachers. Trust in the profession.

  • Local accountability and support, school as a hub with porous walls

  • Regular events and displays to celebrate success, inclusion and diversity

Over to you……

……..and thank you for listening

Twitter @hilarycremin

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