Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Develop a Consistent Approach That Stands Out

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Develop a Consistent Approach That Stands Out

Article excerpt

Schools need to achieve a delicate balance between individuality and conformity

At our school, classrooms look decidedly similar to each other. While content varies, displays are presented in very consistent ways and names on drawers are positioned in the same manner. There is a place for everything and, ideally, everything goes in its place.

This is just part of a broader push for consistency. For example, our ethos is absolutely clear, carefully articulated and effectively communicated whether you're leafing through the prospectus, the website or, more importantly, observing the actions of the staff.

The approach is not about striving for an overwhelming uniformity. Every child is a unique person and our role is to enable them to maximise their individual potential.

To ensure that this is possible, though, you need to create the security of a consistent culture. This acts as a supportive structure when other aspects of the school change over time. The lessons being delivered will alter, but students still know where they are, how to find things and what the school stands for.

Of course, you can get the balance wrong. Here's how we get the consistency that's necessary for success without succumbing to stifling uniformity.

1 Behaviour management

We have an agreed stance on challenging behaviour so that wherever the children find themselves the expectations are the same. However, this is not an inflexible approach. Where required, children have an individual management plan reflecting specific rewards, sanctions and strategies matched to their age and developmental needs. Reducing variability in the adult response is crucial as it provides security for those children still learning how to behave in a socially acceptable manner.

2 Environment

We use symbols to support accessing and navigating the environment and we ensure that they are always the same size and in the same location in every room - for example, in the top right-hand corner of low-level cupboards. …

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