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Our School Story:

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant is located in the middle of a rural town in Llantwit Major, South Wales where pupils are taught through the medium of Welsh. There are currently 222 pupils on roll, including nursery pupils and 8% are eligible for Free School Meals.

 

Before they adopted relational practice, the school had a behaviour policy in place where punitive measures and sanctions were seen to be effective, rather than a focus on positive behaviour. There were no major behaviour issues at the school and procedures for dealing with ‘misbehaving’ pupils were effective to an extent, yet inconsistent. It did not remain this way though.

 

Covid-19 was the main trigger for change. Many pupils returned to school either displaying anxiety or unwanted behaviours. The pandemic had been challenging for pupils (and parents) and previous expectations regarding behaviour had changed. Parents had needed to teach their own children at home, with many having to balance work and childcare. Behaviour boundaries changed and pupils began displaying challenging behaviour at home and in school. The sanctions and strategies that had been largely working were now outdated and no longer effective.

 

Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant wanted to develop positive and consistent procedures across the whole school when dealing with any form of behaviour, both positive and negative. The hope was to reduce the number of pupils who were anxious about coming into school and to build positive relationships across the whole school. They also wanted to ensure that pupils left the school as kind and respectful citizens.

 

The initial plan of action was for every staff member to be bought a copy of ‘When The Adults Change…’ and the Senior Management Team completed the training with Paul Dix. This started conversations about behavioural expectations, relationships and strategies that could be used across the school.

 

Clear school expectations were developed, ‘Disgwyliadau Dewi Sant’ (Dewi Sant Expectations), where pupils should at all times ‘Be Ready, Be Respectful and Be Safe’.

All pupils across the school are aware of these expectations and strive to follow them.

 

The Behaviour Policy was no longer felt to be appropriate to use, so instead a Relationships Policy was developed. This was done in a collaborative way. The Senior Management Team led this, but also brought in the Health and Wellbeing coordinator, staff, pupils and governors. This meant that the policy could be developed and refined by everyone, and importantly, be understood by all. Information regarding the policy was shared with parents via letters, the school website and the school newsletter. Staff received sufficient training so that they are able to successfully implement the relational and restorative strands of the policy. The knowledge that parents have about the approach has meant that they are happier to support the school in individual cases and some are even adopting the same expectations at home.

 

All staff attended a Cluster Training Day where a When the Adults Change trainer spoke at length about the impact of positive noticing across schools. Again, this encouraged discussions that included all staff around the effective use of consistent procedures to tackle behaviour at school and how the whole school approach to positive noticing could be improved. Confidence building for staff was crucial. Staff need to be trained in dealing with positive behaviour and positive noticing, they also need to learn how to deal with wobbles and how to have restorative conversations with pupils.

 

In November 2022, the school participated in a Behaviour Review where another When The Adults Change Trainer attended and reviewed what had been implemented. The report was positive and noted that the school had done much to develop in a more relational direction. Positive noticing was evident, the use of recognition boards in every classroom was used consistently, and effective classroom routines were observed. It was also noted that in general, relationships between adults and children seemed warm and cordial and the school was observed as a happy learning community.

 

Following an inspection by Estyn at the end of January 2024, pupil behaviour and well-being were recognised as being good and it was apparent that the expectations of being ‘Ready, Respectful and Safe’ were at the core of all activities across the school. Things are not over. The process is ongoing. The school has continued to work with the Cluster using the PDG CLA grant to further develop this work and develop a whole cluster-based approach to behaviours. A number of members of staff are currently completing WTAC training, to extend the knowledge further and better equip these staff members.

 

There is an acceptance and understanding that adults and pupils have ‘wobbles’, but as a school Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant is now consistent in its approach to these ‘wobbles’. The school works restoratively with pupils and teachers follow scripts that support both the adult and learner. Reward systems have been adapted and pupils respond well to the recognition cards that are now used to reward those that go above and beyond. Behaviour is generally good across the school. Relationships between pupils and staff are very good, as are the relationships that the school has with its families.

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