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Our School Story:
St Leonard’s C of E Primary School

St Leonard’s was drowning in certificates, points and celebration stickers. There was star of the week, writer of the week, marvellous manners and team point awards. Dojo points were awarded within classrooms with children getting more for expected behaviour and losing them when rules weren’t being followed. There were traffic lights with ‘golden time’ and prizes for pupils on green. There were so many rewards and certificates that the children were starting to get apathetic towards them. They wanted and expected bigger and better things each time. It was not sustainable. The same children stayed on the green traffic light each day and the same children dropped down to red. Behaviour was not changing and children did not have a clear sense of what the school rules were.

 

St Leonard’s wanted its pupils to be more prepared for life after school. The aim was for them to be intrinsically motivated to follow rules because it is the right thing to do, not because they would get a sticker or dojo point. The school wanted its pupils to be more emotionally literate and more reflective of their behaviour. They wanted them to know that it is okay to make a mistake and is important to fix a broken relationship and to be able to talk about why things happen.

 

The school was invited to take part in a research project within Lancashire and was tasked with looking at the advantages of relational practice approaches to behaviour in schools. ‘When the Adults Change…’ was the basis for the project and the guide for the school’s journey.

 

St Leonard’s began by removing all extrinsic rewards and introducing recognition boards in two classes across both key stages. This trial worked really well and it was rolled out across the whole school. The school rules were simplified to just three- ready, respectful and safe. 

 

There is a celebration worship on a Friday where children can share what they have done in class with their peers and parents, and this is not based on ‘best work’, rather all children have the opportunity to show something that they are proud of. Messages are sent home each week for children who are recognised as going above and beyond. Praise is done in public and reprimand in private, tying in with the policy of building positive relationships. Reminder scripts and restorative conversations are used when needed and are something that St Leonard’s is developing.

 

The school has revolutionised its practice and is putting positive relationships at the heart of what it does. Teachers are demonstrating, modelling and practising respectful behaviour and children are behaving better as a result. The best learning happens in calm classrooms with children who are able to self-regulate and they do that more readily with adults they trust and have strong relationships.

 

In a personal reflection, one teacher expresses the profound influence of adopting relational practice. After over two decades of teaching, the teacher states that “When the Adults Change” has been the most impactful resource, altering their teaching approach and perspective on behaviour, and has made them love their profession again.

St. Leonard’s continues their dedication to being engaged in and embedded with relational practice. As they enter their third year of implementation, they continue to seek ways to further develop their practice, recognising that change begins with the adults.

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