This guidance was created in collaboration with our Ofsted expert.




Throughout the past three years, the issue of behaviour management has been highlighted by the national press and it has been portrayed that many secondary schools have significant issues with dealing with disruptive pupils. The reality is that national data highlights that permanent exclusions and fixed-term exclusions remain at a similar level to those of the past four years.

Increasingly, however, the focus is on low-level disruptive behaviour in classrooms and the impact upon pupils who witness this. In 2014, a report on behaviour, commissioned by Sir Michael Wilshaw, calculated that in some secondary classrooms pupils were missing out on up to 38 days a year of their education as a result of teachers dealing with low-level disruptive behaviour.

The changes to the Common Inspection Framework in August 2015 highlighted that the inspection process must judge behaviour and pupils’ attitudes to their personal development. This significant change suggests that behaviour, particularly low-level disruptive behaviour, has a significant impact on the outcomes of pupils – for secondary schools, this has had a huge impact on the management of behaviour, particularly low-level disruptive behaviour; whereas for primary schools this is less significant.   


How leaders can optimise behaviour


The DfE commissioned Tom Bennett to look at behaviour management in schools in 2015, and he became commonly known as the Behaviour Tsar in the national press. Of his report, ‘Creating a Culture: How school leaders can optimise behaviour’, published in 2017, Mr Bennett told the BBC: “Behaviour has not been taken seriously enough in the past, and the official data underestimates the extent of the problem in all schools.”

He stated that a culture of good behaviour must be well-established and universally known by all schools, and headteachers should tackle this behaviour. Mr Bennett also called for the DfE to direct funds to schools with particular behaviour challenges for the creation of internal inclusion units. These would offer targeted, specialist intervention and would help pupils reintegrate back into the mainstream school community when the pupil was ready.

The report clearly stated that behaviour management must be tackled and led by the headteacher. The Ofsted framework also clearly implies that it is the responsibility of the headteacher and the governing board to lead a consistent approach to behaviour management.


Inspectors’ expectations


In terms of behaviour management, inspectors may expect to see evidence of the following:

  • A whole-school, consistent approach to behaviour management policy and procedures within the school
  • All staff, pupils and parents are aware of the school’s policy on behaviour management and know that it is their responsibility to strictly adhere to the policy
  • A clear and succinct procedure for bullying and the reporting of bullying
  • All staff, pupils and parents know the procedures that are in place to deal with bullying
  • All staff are trained on the behaviour management policy during induction so that the management is consistently applied across the whole school
  • High-quality professional development for all staff so that they are aware of their roles, particularly high-quality inductions for new staff, making them aware of the school’s policy on behaviour management
  • Zero-tolerance of low-level disruptive behaviour, and clear expectations from staff and pupils
  • Rewards and sanctions are explicit, and pupils are aware of the implications of such rewards and sanctions
  • School leaders regularly monitor and evaluate the impact of the behaviour management policy; for example, by conducting pupil interviews, learning walks, and parental questionnaires
  • A high-quality pastoral network to work with vulnerable pupils
  • A consistent approach across the whole school to reporting incidents, with a clear system in place to deal with issues, as well as a headteacher pastoral log to summarise the incidents and the implications to the pupils
  • Regular reports from the headteacher to the governors, showing the number of incidents of poor behaviour, bullying, homophobic bullying, etc. – governors have the ability and chance to reflect upon its impact
  • Annual behaviour audits, including all stakeholders, to ensure that behaviour is consistent
  • The school is working with a range of outside agencies, e.g. educational psychologists and mental health professionals, to show that they are supporting vulnerable pupils

Inspectors might ask to view the following documents:

  • Behaviour Policy
  • Pastoral Policy
  • Induction Policy (highlighting behaviour management)
  • Physical Restraint and Reasonable Force Policy and evidence of training and procedures in place
  • Pastoral logs/headteacher logs
  • Pupil interviews on behaviour
  • Parental surveys
  • Analysis of exclusions data
  • Evidence of work with outside agencies, e.g. educational psychologists, behaviour support
  • Governing board minutes showing that behaviour management has been discussed or reviewed 
  • Headteacher reports


Tackling behavioural issues


Schools must have a consistent approach to tackling behaviour across the school; for example, they ensure all classes have a similar approach to guarantee that high expectations are consistently applied. Often when behaviour is a concern for a particular class, the teacher may not be applying the school’s policy consistently – schools must evidence that they have monitored this carefully. 

Pupil voice is a significant factor – schools that have issues with low-level disruptive behaviour often find that many pupils raise this in pupil interviews. Ofsted considers this issue important because, often, pupil interviews show that the most able pupils feel they could do much better if the school dealt with disruptive behaviour.

School rules need to be displayed, as well as a bullying charter, so that it is clear to all visitors of the school that there are clear and explicit expectations of behaviour.






Ofsted (2014) ‘Below the radar: low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms’

Tom Bennett (2017) ‘Creating a Culture: How school leaders can optimise behaviour’