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Our School Story:
St Joseph and St Bede RC Primary School

Before adopting relational practice, St Joseph and St Bede RC Primary School (SJSB) used a traffic light system for behaviour, with three warnings and then a punishment, followed by time with SLT. Parents were written to or telephoned and told about poor behaviour. Negative incidents were increasing, and it was often the same children and year groups doing the same things. The approach was not working. SJSB wanted to transform its culture through a positive behaviour system, based on restorative justice and relational practice.


Each member of staff from the very top right down, including lunchtime staff, cleaners and caretakers, was bought a copy of ‘When the Adults Change…’ and this was set as part of ongoing Continuing Professional Development. This opened up great discussion from the onset and the school was able to use the book and its principles to rewrite its behaviour policy.


The code of conduct was simplified to ‘Ready, respectful and safe’, with each expectation underpinned by the ‘SJSB Way’ of doing things. Examples were set out and the ‘SJSB Way’ was rolled out school-wide and is updated each half-term and is continually revisited by staff and pupils.


The negative traffic light system was out and ‘Boards of Positivity’ were brought into each classroom in shared areas. House points are used as a school-wide recognition system to bring children together into wider teams and promote shared accountability and collaboration. Certificates have been simplified and focus on effort and learning attitude rather than attainment or specific outcomes and ‘Hot Chocolate Friday’ has been introduced. Pupils have thrived with clear and consistent rewards and boundaries.


Parents have been engaged in the process, with working groups set up to explain the changes and new policies and expectations shared in meetings, events and communications. Positive postcards, emails and phone calls are used to let parents know about positive behaviours in school. Quite the opposite of the previous calls to talk about negative behaviour.


Pupils have a key role to play. Year 6 pupils take on the role of a ‘gardener’ looking after a reception child ‘seed’. There are also peer mediators, mental health and wellbeing ambassadors and play leaders. There is a ‘buddy bench’ where children can sit if they feel lonely so that children know to include each other. Staff have been trained in playground games to engage children and give them more structure at breaktimes. There is also a lunchtime ‘drop-in’ for children who need time out from the playground and calm-down pods dotted around the school for children who need a moment of calm before going back to learning. There is ‘fix-it time’ across the school, with ‘fix-it cards’ which are restorative conversation cards to support children to solve their problems more independently. 


Silent signals are used in each class to aid staff with daily routines. The children know the signals and they give them a sense of predictability with transitions and expectations. This has had a huge impact on reducing low-level disruption and reducing lost learning time.


Staff use positive scripts to de-escalate behaviour. The school’s restorative pathway is called the ‘St Joseph’s Way’, a pathway for those who are consistently breaking the code of conduct. They are given the opportunity to give back to the school community, with SLT support. The number of pupils needing this support has drastically reduced over the last 2 years, showing that the approach is working.


SJSB is a positive place now. Behaviour incidents have decreased and the children are engaged with the new clearer and consistent reward system. The school were thrilled with their ‘outstanding’ grading for ‘Personal Development of Pupils’ by Ofsted. It has really shown how far the school has come and is a reflection of everyone’s efforts in transforming the school culture.

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