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Research School Network: CASE STUDY: know and understand your pupils and their influences John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School looks at Recommendation 1 of Improving Behaviour in Schools


CASE STUDY: know and understand your pupils and their influences

John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School looks at Recommendation 1 of Improving Behaviour in Schools

by Kingsbridge Research School
on the

The EEF Guidance Report for Improving Behaviour in Schools states: Research suggests that teachers knowing their students well can have a positive impact on classroom behaviour. In settings where multiple adults frequently work with individual pupils, effective communication between those key adults is important.”

It goes on to ask, How can we get to know our Pupils?”

“Consider your school context and the system that would work for you. Is it possible to structure your school such that someone knows each pupil, their strengths and interests? Can this be managed for some pupils, if not all? In primary schools and special schools, the class teacher may be able to provide this role. In secondary schools, an existing pastoral system might be a good place to start to proactively support your pupils to respond well to influences in and out of school that could affect their behaviour. At the teacher level, regularly and intentionally focusing small amounts of time working on relationships with individual pupils can have a big impact. This could be as simple as asking about their weekend or how their football team is performing.”

Many secondary schools will organise their pastoral system around a tutor, with students arranged into tutor groups who see a particular member of staff once (or maybe twice) a day. The tutor becomes central to the pastoral care and support of the pupils in their form group: the hub of knowledge, the point of contact, the supportive and emotionally available adult for each and every child.

Tutors develop relationships with their tutees over the course of weeks, terms and years. They see the students daily, chat with them, talk about home, school, achievements, interests and a whole range of other things. They contact home, meet with parents, phone regularly, email often, developing a relationship with parents and carers at home as well as with the student in school. All of this is exactly what the role of Tutor demands and is effective at helping to manage behaviour precisely because there is at least one adult within the school who knows each child well.

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But can schools do more to help the tutors know their pupils? As Assistant Principal with responsibility for (amongst other things) behaviour, I wanted to develop a way to support our tutors with pertinent, useful and timely data on the students in their care.

At our school, we have a behaviour system that captures huge amounts of data each week on every student. We use EdulinkOne (linked to SIMS) to award Achievement points and rewards and give out Behaviour points and sanctions. The key question was: how do we use all this data most effectively? What I wanted to do was develop a system so that each tutor could have a weekly snapshot of all the data recorded for their students, both for achievement and behaviour.

During Lockdown 1, I explored ways of automating this using the programming language Python. Eventually I developed a script that takes a weekly report from SIMS with ALL the data for every student in the school and packages the data into tutor groups. The programme then emails the relevant tutor group’s data to the tutor of that group. The code to do this is hardly ground-breaking, but it allows me to provide relevant data to each tutor, once a week, very easily and quickly. Each tutor then has an overview of what went on during the week for each of their tutees. The tutors then use this early in the following week to have informed conversations with their students. 

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Maybe a student achieved a Da Vinci award’ (given for outstanding effort and/​or work, over and above the expected standard), the tutor can celebrate this with the student and ask about something they might not have known otherwise (assuming it was awarded by another teacher).

Maybe a student was given a detention, or had their phone confiscated, or was picked up for a uniform issue – the tutor can then talk with the student about that, discuss reasons, explain solutions and expectations, explore the root causes and so on.

The aim of this is to provide tutors with useful data to inform them about their pupils and help them build better and more effective relationships. By doing so, we hope behaviour is managed more effectively and responds to Recommendation 1 of the guidance report: Know and understand your pupils and their influences.

“research suggests that teachers knowing their students well can have a positive impact on classroom behaviour. In settings where multiple adults frequently work with individual pupils, effective communication between those key adults is important.”

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