Successful behaviours through reward-based programme

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A reward-based programme that was trialled in the USA has been implemented in Aran Hall independent special school. The programme has helped the majority of pupils to manage their own behaviour successfully. As a result, pupils now attend school regularly and treat others with dignity and respect. Pupils have learnt how to use the community safely, and attend college and work experience placements. From this, pupils have gained relevant accreditation for their work.

Number of pupils: 11
Age range: 13-19

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

In 2010, the school adopted a reward-based programme that had been developed in the USA, in response to the severe problem behaviour presented by a small number of pupils.  Senior leaders at Aran Hall refined the programme so that staff could implement the programme successfully across both the education and residential settings.  Using a behavioural skills training package, a small number of teaching and residential staff were initially trained to use the programme with two pupils.  Senior leaders then implemented the programme across the school.  Staff now implement the programme in all classes, the residential units and when pupils access the wider community for college and work placements.

Description or nature of strategy or activity

The programme is an integrated point and level system that rewards pupils for demonstrating pro-social skills linked to success in mainstream school, college or workplace.  Pupils receive points for attending school or college on time, working on the set task, completing the set task and demonstrating safe and respectful behaviour.  Pupils then exchange the points awarded by staff for back-up reinforcers such as computer games, magazines and portable music devices. 

All pupils have a daily activity schedule that breaks the day down into ten 30-minute periods.  At the end of each 30-minute period, the staff member allocated to each pupil allocates points contingent on the pupil having demonstrated the appropriate behaviour.  As pupils demonstrate increasing rates of pro-social and academic behaviour, they earn promotion through the level system and in doing so are able to access a greater range of reinforcing activities.  Concurrent with this, the pupils spend more time on academic tasks and less on reward activities.

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

The programme has helped the majority of pupils to manage their own behaviour successfully.  As a result, pupils now attend school regularly, treat others with dignity and respect, use the community safely, attend college and work experience placements and gain relevant accreditation for their work.  

How have you shared your good practice?

The school has shared its good practice via three academic papers and at conferences in the UK and the USA.  The school regularly hosts visitors from schools and other professionals across the UK.  A small number of schools in both Wales and England are using variations of the programme.