Your priority is positive behaviour

You know how important it is for a school to have a culture of positive behaviour. You probably remember from your own school days how much learning can be lost, and how tempting the bad influences are, when behaviour is poor. You also care about the safety of your child and know that a school with strong behaviour policies will help keep them safe. The following guide will help you to get the information you need when visiting secondary schools.

It is important to remember that the information you get during an open day or school visit, should be placed in context with the other information you have available. Your decisions should not be based on one factor alone. I can’t give advice, I can only provide you with tools to make the best choice for you and your family.

What to look for in the school...

  • Are there any displays of school rules and consequences?
  • Do students have to walk around the school in a certain way? For example, walking in silence, following a one-way system etc.
  • How do the displays look? Are they well-kept?
  • What are the toilets like?
  • Does the school have lots of locked / restricted areas?
  • Can you see an internal exclusion room or detention area?
  • What are the student helpers doing? Are they demonstrating good behaviour?
  • Are the other visiting parents or children acting in a way you approve?
  • Are the classrooms set out in rows? This may point to a more controlled, teacher-led style pedagogical approach

What to listen out for in presentations...

  • Does the head mention ‘zero-tolerance’ or ‘warm-strict’?
  • Does the head mention about having high-expectations of behaviour or about home-school contracts?
  • Does the head talk about any problems in the local area outside of the school?
  • Does the head talk about school rules or consequences?

What to ask teachers...

  • Is it easy to teach here?
  • Do students behave well?
  • Would you send your own child here?
  • How does the behaviour system work in reality? Can you talk me through what would happen if (inset behaviour worry)?
  • Which year group is currently the most difficult to teach? Why?
  • What is it like during lesson transitions?
  • What do students typically do during break and lunch time?

What to ask students...

  • Who is the strictest teacher in the school? What makes them so strict?
  • Who is the least strict teacher? What is it like in their lessons?
  • Are all students well behaved here?
  • What’s the worst thing you have seen happen at school?
  • Is there any bullying here?
  • What is it like walking between lessons?
  • What do students do at break and lunch time?
  • What is it like leaving school and getting home?