A collaborative approach to supporting positive behaviour

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Ysgol y Gogarth worked with Bangor University to adopt and develop an approach to behaviour support that is based on teachers, behaviour analysts and other professionals working closely together. The aim is to teach pupils the skills needed to reach their full potential and reduce barriers to learning.

Number of learners: 223
Age range: 3-19
Date of inspection: October 2017

Information about the school

Ysgol y Gogarth is a day and residential special school situated in the coastal town of Llandudno.  It is the only special school maintained by Conwy local authority.  Currently there are 223 pupils on roll aged from 3 to 19.  All pupils have a statement of special educational needs for moderate and severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties or autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).  The school manages a residential facility that offers short-term placements for pupils who attend the school.  The school also provides a base for a number of other key services, including the children with disabilities social work team, the ASD outreach team, the sensory support service and child development centre for Conwy.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

In 2010, Ysgol y Gogarth started a collaborative project with Bangor University to develop evidence-based practice in the field of positive behaviour support.  Initially the school employed a behaviour analyst and secured consultancy from the university with the aim of targeting pupils whose challenging behaviours meant that their school placements were at risk of breaking down.  Since then, the focus of this work has been extended to include preventative, early intervention approaches within the foundation phase, and to develop whole-school positive behaviour approaches that support individual pupils in managing their own behaviour.  The work is based upon effective multi-disciplinary collaboration and addresses the development of pupils’ behavioural, social, communication and educational skills.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The school’s model of positive behaviour support is based on close collaboration between teachers, behaviour analysts and other professionals.  The aim is to teach pupils the skills needed to reach their full potential and reduce barriers to learning.  Behaviour analysts support teachers to design programmes to improve communication, teach academic skills, and reduce disruptive behaviours that impede learning.  Over time the school has developed four areas of practice and research:

1) BESST (British Early Special School Teaching model): a teaching and classroom management approach developed by the school in conjunction with the university for pupils in the foundation phase
2) STEPS: a programme developed by the school to support pupils to manage their own behavior and engagement
3) Individual behaviour plans to support pupils with challenging behaviour
4) A whole-school approach to positive behaviour support

The BESST approach ensures that all pupils in the foundation phase receive an individualised curriculum designed to enable them to learn successfully.  The model aims to ensure that pupils learn the skills they need to communicate and succeed in school, thus ensuring a positive experience of school  from the start. 

The STEPS programme aims to support pupils who require additional support to manage and monitor their own behaviour, social skills and engagement in learning as they progress through school. It provides regular opportunities for pupils to reflect on their progress, incorporates incentives to achieve and includes relevant opportunities to increase progressively the level of challenge in terms of expectations of pupils’ behaviour.
Individual behaviour plans are implemented for pupils that require further targeted support.  These provide staff with a consistent approach that enables them to address behaviours that impede learning and to implement these effectively across the school day.  A functional behaviour assessment of pupils is undertaken by behaviour analysts and class teams of teachers and support staff.  Behaviour analysts then train staff in how best to implement the plans, monitor their impact and revise as necessary.  Functional communication training for pupils is a key component of most behaviour plans, allowing pupils to increase appropriate communication and thereby reduce challenging behaviours.

The whole-school approach to positive behaviour support incorporates all these strategies in a carefully structured model of behaviour management.  This whole-school focus ensures pupils at all stages of their education engage with school expectations and provides regular and meaningful opportunities for recognition of pupils’ progress and achievements.  The consistency and coherence of this model allow for a staged and progressive approach to the development of behaviours that aims to impact positively on pupils’ learning and independence in school and beyond.  

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

Since the initial collaboration with the university, the school has employed a further seven behaviour analysts to support and evaluate practice, extending their work across school.  The model has enabled all pupils to maintain their placements successfully at the school.  This has meant, for example, that there have been no permanent exclusions from the school for the last three years.  Pupils are included within all aspects of school and a few regularly access mainstream provision.

How have you shared your good practice?

The school has shared its practice in BESST through a replication study where six schools were supported to implement the BESST model.  This support included attendance at a conference, group meetings and ongoing dialogue with the school.

The school has shared its work in developing the STEPS programme with regional special schools through presentations at conferences and through local school-to-school collaborations.
Behaviour analysts employed by the school have presented their work in both fields at conferences regionally and internationally.

Links: www.ysgolygogarth.conwy.sch.uk