Reading time: 3 minutes

The Ofsted annual report from 2012/13 states that, “…teachers can only teach well, and challenge pupils to do better routinely, if behaviour in class is orderly and attentive.”

This means that even low-level disruption such as incessant chatter, calling out, inattention and other seemingly minor behaviour issues will affect teaching standards in the classroom in general.

These are factors to be addressed by good teaching, good planning and a well-thought-out behaviour policy which is implemented and monitored by the leadership of the school as well as the teaching staff in the classroom.

The majority of students work hard, behave well and want to achieve during school. This was reflected in the 2005 Steer report, where again, low-level disruption was cited as being the root of a number of problems. Throughout our careers however, we all have to manage and teach students who exhibit more challenging behaviour than this. Often this may be one pupil in a class who may have a statement for Behavioural Emotional and Social Difficulties (BESD) or who just appears to relish being a disruptive influence.

If these students are not effectively engaged and their energies properly channelled, they can disrupt even the most carefully planned lesson. What are the most effective steps we can take to best support these pupils?


Behaviour is a whole school issue and the whole school has to have an effective policy to manage behaviour, empowering teachers to both reward pupils properly and implement sanctions where necessary.

This has to be consistent across the board and monitored by the leadership team.

A clear behaviour policy is an important factor and Charlie Taylor, one of the government’s independent behaviour advisors, came up with a checklist of what schools and teachers should do to manage behaviour better across the spectrum, not just for those pupils who might cause low-level disruption. He lists policy first, ensuring there is complete clarity about routines, expectations, rewards and sanctions and ensuring these policies are adhered to.

This element of planning allows us to foster the security of knowing exactly what should happen and how it will happen, which is an effective strategy for pupils with BESD.

Identifying Needs

Shove Planning for pupils with extra needs is of particular importance; this includes staff having the knowledge and the skills to manage pupils with a range needs within their class.

This may merit the use of a Learning Support Assistant with the class, though understanding of the needs of the individual and planning for these effectively should be a priority.

Schools have to be aware of the different methods to include these students in the daily life of the school and how to best develop their skills. In some instances however, behaviour can be more demanding than even an expert teacher using a robust behaviour policy can effectively manage in a mainstream context.

An effective plan for referral for extra support from either a Pupil Referral Unit or a BESD specialist school needs to be considered to provide the most appropriate support for that pupil if all other avenues have been exhausted. The most important thing to remember is that it is not an option to give up on these pupils.

Referral to a Pupil Referral Unit should only be done in partnership with the PRU and shouldn’t be considered as a one way street, but more an intervention to help these pupils address the social issues and develop the skills they require to cope better in their mainstream classrooms.

Staff Training

In Ofsted’s “Managing Challenging Behaviour” document, the comment was made that, “The most effective teaching for learners with the most difficult behaviour is little different to that which is most successful for all groups of learners.”

In other words, a lot of the techniques which have been mentioned by Charlie Taylor, Ofsted, The Steer Report and any number of other sources on behaviour about the effective management of low-level disruption, can be directly translated to more difficult behaviour. The principle is the same: plan effective strategies and routines, ensure leadership support and monitor these strategies, plan and deliver differentiated lessons and have high expectations of students in the classroom and around school, and ensure the setting is conducive to learning.

Members of staff need to be fully aware of the standards the leadership of the school expect and how to achieve them, so this in addition to more specialist training to help them support specific learning needs has to be a key factor towards supporting more challenging pupils.

If you refer to our article on rewards and sanctions, there are a number of suggestions of ways to reward desirable behaviour and ways to deal with inappropriate behaviour which could be included in any behaviour policy a school might want to use. A consistent, well thought out and fairly managed approach to managing behaviour should be just as effective for pupils demonstrating low-level disruptive behaviour all the way to the more attention seeking or disruptive actions.

How does your school deal with pupils with more challenging behaviour?

We would welcome your thoughts and contributions about this article and the documents we have linked to. Have you tried using Charlie Taylor’s checklists? How useful did you find the Steer Report? Let us know in the comments below!