Research School Network: Using the EEF’s Behaviour Guidance Report during Covid-19 John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School looks at how the EEF’s Behaviour Guidance Report can help guide our response

Using the EEF’s Behaviour Guidance Report during Covid-19

John Rodgers of Cornwall Associate Research School looks at how the EEF’s Behaviour Guidance Report can help guide our response

by Kingsbridge Research School
on the

These are strange times indeed for education and the nation at large. As schools prepare to welcome back increasing numbers of students, thoughts may well turn to adapting behaviour policies for a post-covid return.The EEF’s Improving Behaviour in Schools guidance report may well be a valuable document to refer to in any discussions that take place over the coming weeks. The 6 summary recommendations in this report can be broken into 3 categories. Proactive, Reactive and Implementation Recommendations.

Proactive approaches

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1. Know and understand your pupils.

For many schools, the lockdown has provided opportunities to get to know their pupils in a way not afforded before. The evidence is that a pupil’s behaviour has multiple influences and if schools can understand the context of their pupils, effective responses to behaviour can be developed.

It may well be that schools have had the opportunity to deal more closely with families during the lockdown and have therefore become better informed about pupils’ influences and contexts. Likewise, schools may have set up systems during lockdown whereby tutors or other school staff have taken responsibility for the oversight of student wellbeing, work habits, learning and progress.

If your school has not done so already, perhaps the remaining weeks (or months) of lockdown could be used to allocate certain staff to small groups of students. They could take the lead to become better informed about each student, thereby developing better and more supportive relationships that provide the basis for effective behaviour management. There are other EEF Guidance reports that might aid schools in this. Below are links to guidance reports that schools, leadership teams and individual teachers might find interesting and useful:

Special Educational Needs in Mainstream Schools

Social and Emotional Learning

Working with Parents to support Children’s Learning

2. Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour.

One of the proactive things we could be working on now is guidance for our pupils with respect to post-Covid behaviour expectations. These may well include bespoke instructions that inform students how each school plans to allow for social distancing, how break times and lunchtimes will look, how learning will take place and so on. Whatever a particular school decides is best for their specific context, the evidence shows that the behaviours we wish to see should be explicitly taught. The guidance also says that teachers helping students to reflect on their behaviour will have a positive impact. Help with this can be found in the EEF guidance report on Metacognition and Self Regulated Learning

3. Use classroom management strategies to support good classroom behaviour

Classrooms may well look very different for the next few months. We may have fewer students per room, different timetables, perhaps even different modes of pedagogical delivery. The evidence shows that classroom management strategies can be used to improve behaviour. If we need to institute changes to our pre-lockdown normal’ classroom strategies, schools and leadership teams must carefully consider how to train classroom staff in the deployment of new strategies and protocols. Returning to school will be as difficult, strange and challenging for staff as well as it will be for students. Clarity on how to behave, and clarity on any new management strategies will be crucial for staff and students alike.

4. Use simple approaches as part of your regular routine

When considering what good behaviour’ will look like for the different stages of school’s return, it is important to keep things simple. Overcomplicating new behaviour routines would be a mistake. Clarity, simplicity and communication will likely aid the transition as students return to the classroom.

Reactive approaches

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5. Use targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in your school

If schools and their staff know and understand their pupils, they can implement target approaches that meet pupils’ individual needs. In every school, this will have been happening already. The challenge of a post-lockdown return is ensuring that these individual needs are still met. This may need careful consideration. Timetables and staffing may be different and complicated, students may not be in the same groups (both in terms of size and composition), the structure of the school day may well be necessarily altered.

These and many other factors could provide significant challenges for students with individual needs. Whilst this recommendation is labelled under Reactive, I would suggest that proactive consideration is made to account for the needs of all pupils before their return.


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6. Consistency is key

The first thing to consider when attempting any change within organisations is how will this change be best implemented. I am sure we can all recall instances of launches” that saw lots of effort and work at their inception where the impact, efficacy and implementation fell away quickly afterwards. There is a phrase (possibly from the military) that I love, the 6 P’s: Proper Planning and Preparation Prevent Poor Performance. The EEF’s guidance report on Implementation is one of the most useful documents schools, or any organisation, can read and use. It describes the most effective, evidence-backed method of implementing any change in any organisation.

The diagram below, from the report, illustrates the cycle of implementation. I would advise, however, that although the time given for each of the sections may appear equal, in reality the first 2 phases (explore and prepare) may need longer than the delivery and sustain phases.


These are indeed strange times. As W.B. Yeats said, things are changed, changed utterly.” As they change again and we return to school, students will need us as teachers and school leaders to help them reintegrate into our learning communities. Behaviour management will be a huge part of that. With the proper planning and preparation, schools can ensure that all students get the very best deal.

More Covid-19 support resources

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Following our Metacognition & Remote Learning webinar, we’re pleased to announce a FREE follow-up webinar in collaboration with Teaching Schools South West led by Steve Smith, Director of @HISPResearchSch Friday 19th June at 11:00. Register here.

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