Research suggests that effective behavioural interventions can have a direct and significant effect on a student’s academic achievement. So how do you make sure your interventions are effective? Targeted interventions that address the specific issues of individual students are the most effective so the first step is to identify the needs of the student.

There are some great diagnostic tests out there that do not require an educational psychology doctorate to understand. The Boxall Profile, which comes from the Nurture Group is one of the most thorough, although it does require investment in training and purchase. There is also the use of individual data from the PASS survey, SNAP-B assessments or even other less involved tests for constructs such as self-esteem and self-confidence available online which could be implemented in house. Use the best diagnostic tools you can afford to invest in, as it will increase the chances of whatever intervention you use being effective.

Once you have determined the issue that is causing the negative behaviour that has triggered the need for intervention, then you need to determine what to do about it. There are any number of intervention packages, specialists and programmes you can choose from.

Anger Management

The best anger management packages are those that combine relaxation with cognitive therapy: reducing the base level of anxiety and adrenaline whilst altering the thought patterns that lead to the anger in the first place. There are specific qualifications available for therapists so always check the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy register to ensure that any external therapist is legitimate. On a less intensive level, it is a great investment to get one of your learning mentors or more pastorally minded teaching assistants trained up in any of the great programmes out there.

Stress Management

This is one of those interventions that can be perceived as ‘woolly’ by some in education, but its benefits have long been accepted in industry. In the last Labour Force survey, the HSE reported that 11.3 million working days were lost due to stress, anxiety and depression, so there is no point pretending that those issues don’t also affect schools. The International Stress Management Association accredits practitioners who can design targeted interventions for students who may be reacting poorly to internal and external stressors with a proven track record of results.

Communication Interventions

There are a host of well-researched interventions for students on the Autism Spectrum to assist in their communication and social interaction. Increasingly, it is being understood that many of the behavioural challenges that students present can be seen through a similar lens.

Adapting existing speech and language based interventions to suit those not on the spectrum, but who struggle to engage with peers and adults in socially acceptable way, is not as big a jump as you would imagine. Work with your special needs department, your local Speech and Language team and you might just find you have resources available already.