chapter  5
Policy into practice: Doing behaviour policy in schools
Pages 23

Schools have always had a pressing and pragmatic concern with managing student behaviour. In addition, behaviour is a ‘problem’ that governments – both left and right – utilise to demonstrate that they take education seriously. It is an arena that always attracts policy attention from within, as well as outside of the school and alongside the standards discourse we attended to in Chapter 4, behaviour is one of the dominant discourses of schooling. Compared with standards, however, behaviour and discipline and its management and organisation in institutions and by individuals are to a greater extent open to what Spillane (2004) termed ‘sense-making’. Behaviour is an area of education infused with long-standing and agonistic discourses and sets of diverse professionals with attachments to different interpretations of the what and the why of behaviour management (e.g. Slee 1995, 2011). More than in many other policy areas, behaviour policy is thus a site where professional conflicts and different approaches to ‘sense-making’ can come to the fore – rich ground for our investigation of policy enactments. Amongst the key professionals ‘doing’ behaviour in schools – not just teachers and senior management, but also TAs and LSAs, learning mentors, behaviour and attendance officers, etc. – power dynamics and hierarchies remain, but practice and pragmatics can blur some distinctions. Behaviour and discipline is also clearly an area that is susceptible to different patterns of enactment throughout the school year, with the end of the academic year or term likely to be relatively lax, in contrast to the beginning. Different practices and rules may apply to the sixth form versus lower down the school and within different sets or teaching groups. Thus, it is a policy site that is very much mediated by time, place and policy actors (junior as well as senior) with different professional backgrounds, perspectives and practical tactics. Like assessment and standards, behaviour policy is also a key arena for marketing opportunities. Schools are targeted by private as well as not-for-profit providers offering a range of tailored and off-the-shelf solutions designed to address behaviour issues. In enacting behaviour policy, there are fashions and distinct styles of behaviour management, techniques, technologies and procedures that are marketed and deployed by schools. The motivation for schools to engage with such marketing activities is obvious, behaviour is a

key concern that everyone takes seriously – from the government, to teachers, to parents. In many ways, a school that can demonstrate a strong record of behaviour management, a unique approach or considerable improvement in this area, will be seen as a ‘successful’ school. In this chapter, we will focus on three particular aspects of behaviour policy enactment. First, we examine behaviour as one of the major discourses of schooling; it is a policy arena that must be attended to and is an integral part of schools as institutions. As such, behaviour policy has undergone a series of reiterations in government and school discourses. Second, we will explore conflicts in philosophy and pedagogy that lead to different versions of ‘doing’ behaviour policy in schools. Here we are looking at the assemblages of people ‘doing behaviour’, their motivations, philosophies and practices, and the contestations and conflicts these can lead to within schools. Third, we will be considering the prescriptive regimes of doing behaviour policy, contrasted with its different interpretations and translations between policy and practice and the physical and emotional places in which behaviour policy is actually enacted in schools. When studying how behaviour policy is ‘done’ in ‘real’ schools, in many schools specialised provision around behaviour is often located in peripheral spaces – in ‘inclusion units’ on the lower ground floor or buildings across the playground – tucked away and out of sight. Yet, behaviour is simultaneously a major preoccupation, part of the public face and reputation of the school rendering it institutionally both marginal and central. We will be starting off the chapter by asking why disciplinary discourses are in circulation and what form these discourses take, before looking at the ‘doing’, the enacting, of behaviour policy in our case study schools.