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Behaviour policy: model and examples

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Last updated on 3 April 2018
Statutory/mandatory for: Maintained schools Academies Free schools Independent schools Pupil referral units Non-maintained special schools What does this mean?
Policy article
Are there examples of behaviour policies? We set out requirements for school behaviour policies and link to examples from primary, secondary and special schools. You will find tips on writing an implementing a behaviour policy, and a downloadable KeyDoc checklist to help you write your own.

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  1. 1 Model policy from The Key
  2. 2 Requirements
  3. 3 DfE advice
  4. 4 Top tips
  5. 5 Examples
  6. 6 Equality considerations

Article features

  • 11 external links

Model policy from The Key

We have created a model behaviour policy. Approved by Forbes Solicitors, this model document is designed for you to adapt to suit your school’s context. All of our model documents take account of relevant requirements and good practice. They are easy to adapt, will save you time and help you keep your school compliant.

As explained in section 2, maintained schools, academies, independent schools, pupil referral units (PRUs) and non-maintained special schools are required to have a behaviour policy. 

The document also includes a statement of behaviour principles, which maintained schools, PRUs and non-maintained special schools are required to have.

For more model policies and complete policy support from The Key, see the policy bank

Downloadable checklist

We have also created a checklist designed to help you write and review your school's behaviour policy, if you prefer.

The checklist is based on guidance from the Department for Education (DfE).

You can download it here:


The DfE has published guidance for schools, outlining the policies and other documents that governing bodies and proprietors are required to have by law.

Page 8 says that all schools must have a policy on behaviour. This includes:

  • Maintained schools
  • Academies and free schools
  • Independent schools
  • Pupil referral units (PRUs)
  • Non-maintained special schools

The headteacher is free to determine the frequency with which the behaviour policy is reviewed.

Further information on school behaviour policies is available on pages 4-5 of the DfE's guidance on behaviour for headteachers and school staff. Requirements differ depending on the type of school.

Maintained schools, PRUs and non-maintained special schools

All schools must have a policy on behaviour

The headteacher must set out measures in the behaviour policy that:

  • Promote good behaviour, self-discipline and respect
  • Prevent bullying
  • Ensure that pupils complete assigned work
  • Regulate the conduct of pupils

This is in accordance with section 89 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.

The headteacher must also:

  • Take account of the governing body's statement of behaviour principles and any guidance or notification provided by the governing body when writing the behaviour policy
  • Decide the standard of behaviour expected of pupils
  • Determine the school rules and any disciplinary penalties for breaking them
  • Publicise the behaviour policy at least once a year, in writing, to parents, pupils and staff

The behaviour policy must be published on the school's website.

Academies, free schools, independent schools and AP academies and free schools

The proprietor is required to ensure that:

  • A written policy is drawn up and effectively implemented which:
    • Promotes good behaviour among pupils
    • Sets out the disciplinary measures to be adopted in response to bad behaviour
  • An anti-bullying strategy is drawn up and implemented

Information about the school's behaviour policy must be made available to parents on request. Though the policy does not have to be published on the school's website, it is good practice to do so.

DfE advice

Further advice on pages 5-6 of the DfE's guidance on behaviour says that school behaviour policies should:

  • Be clear
  • Be well understood by staff, parents and pupils
  • Be consistently applied
  • Set out the sanctions that will be applied where pupils are found to have made malicious allegations against staff
  • Acknowledge the school's legal duties regarding:
    • The Equality Act 2010
    • Safeguarding
    • Special educational needs

It also says that when developing the behaviour policy, the headteacher should reflect on the following 10 "key aspects of school practice that, when effective, contribute to improving the quality of pupil behaviour":

  1. A consistent approach to behaviour management
  2. Strong school leadership
  3. Classroom management
  4. Rewards and sanctions
  5. Behaviour strategies and the teaching of good behaviour
  6. Staff development and support
  7. Pupil support systems
  8. Liaison with parents and other agencies
  9. Managing pupil transition
  10. Organisation and facilities

These principles were taken from a report on behaviour for learning commissioned by the Department for Education and Skills, a predecessor to the DfE. It is available from the Institute of Education's Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA):

How effective and consistent is behaviour management across your school?

One of the modules in The Key's CPD Toolkit explores evidence and research into high-impact approaches to behaviour management. It looks at how to use rewards, sanctions and praise to reinforce rules, and how to develop positive relationships with pupils.

Learn more

Top tips

Writing the policy

We spoke to Paul Dix at Pivotal Education about how to write an effective behaviour policy. He gave us the following top tips:

  • Make it simple. Good behaviour policies don’t contain too many rules
  • Make it clear. Consider setting things out in threes: three clear rules, three expectations of adults’ behaviour, three ways to recognise positive behaviour
  • Include a one-page summary that staff can use every day
  • Include a classroom behaviour plan, with stepped consequences for poor behaviour and positive recognition for pupils who exceed expectations
  • Ensure the policy allows staff to recognise good behaviour
  • Ensure the policy encourages the sharing of positive feedback between staff, pupils and parents
  • Make it clear that all adults are responsible for managing behaviour around the school
  • Ensure the policy encourages school leaders to support all staff in managing behaviour
  • Acknowledge that some pupils require a more sensitive and differentiated approach

Implementing the policy

Ask all staff to make one positive phone call to a pupil's parents each week

Paul also suggested how schools can put their behaviour policy into practice:

  • Start with a 30-day challenge in which all members of staff focus on one kind of behaviour they want to change
  • Engage staff, pupils and parents in developing a one-page summary of the policy, which staff can use every day
  • Intensively teach three key rules. Display them prominently for a month, then remove them and encourage staff to sustain a consistent focus on these rules
  • Introduce scripts for staff to use when discussing negative behaviour with pupils
  • Encourage staff to teach one routine at a time until pupils can carry it out perfectly
  • Give out 'positive notes' at a weekly staff briefing, and ask staff to give these to two pupils who have exceeded expectations
  • Ask all staff to make one positive phone call to a pupil's parents each week

Pivotal Education is an education training provider specialising in behaviour management.


Primary schools

The Valley Community Primary School in Bolton has a behaviour policy for the 2016/17 academic year which covers:

  • The responsibilities of pupils, staff and parents
  • Principles and practical strategies for promoting positive behaviour
  • Sanctions and the use of the 'traffic light system'
  • Reporting and monitoring behaviour incidents

The 2016 behaviour policy from Newall Green Primary School in Manchester has sections on:

  • How the school rewards acceptable behaviour and manages unacceptable behaviour
  • Good practice for staff
  • Involving parents in the management of behaviour

Pages 8-12 feature:

  • A child-friendly guide to 'traffic light' procedures
  • A behaviour reflection sheet for pupils to complete
  • A sanctions sheet for staff to complete
Case study icon

Case study: 'behaviour boot camp'

We visited Michaela Community School in Brent and spoke to Katie Ashford, the director of inclusion, and Joe Kirby, assistant headteacher and the head of English, about the school’s behaviour policy.

They explained that the school runs a ‘behaviour boot camp’ for new year 7 pupils before the rest of the school begins the new academic year. The boot camp runs in early autumn and lasts for between one and two weeks.

During the boot camp, pupils learn about the school’s behaviour system, the school rules, and in what circumstances they will be given demerits and detentions.

Pupils are also introduced to the school’s values during this time, and are taught about the importance of, for example, stoicism and integrity.

Secondary school

St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle Upon Tyne covers the following in its behaviour policy:

  • The aims of the policy and overarching principles for behaviour in the school
  • How the policy will be implemented consistently, communicated and understood
  • School rules on e.g. punctuality, clothing, conduct and use of technology
  • Rewards and sanctions
  • Responsibilities of the class teacher, form teacher, all teaching staff, the curriculum leader and the pastoral leader
  • The seclusion unit
  • Good practice for staff

Special school

The positive behaviour policy from Swiss Cottage School, an all-through special school in Camden, features sections on:

  • Underlying principles for behaviour management at the school
  • Rewards for good behaviour and consequences for poor behaviour
  • Support for pupils with exceptional behavioural needs
  • Bullying
  • Discriminatory language/racist incidents
  • Restraint, and touching and holding pupils
  • Monitoring behaviour
  • Exclusions

The school's physical intervention policy is included on pages 12-13.

Equality considerations

A school leader asked us how a school can ensure that its behaviour policy meets the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED).

Schools should ensure their behaviour policy does not unintentionally discriminate against certain groups

Ellie Dix from Pivotal Education explained that for a school's behaviour policy to meet PSED requirements it must:

  • Penalise bullying that is inflicted on the grounds of race, gender, disability and other characteristics (such as sexual orientation)
  • Not include rules, penalties or punishments that would disproportionately affect a particular group

The school could also explain how its behaviour policy relates to its equality and diversity policy.

Ellie also said that schools should ensure their behaviour policy does not unintentionally discriminate against certain groups by keeping a record of behaviour incidents and looking for patterns.

If the school finds that a particular group of pupils, for example those with special educational needs, is more affected by the policy than other groups, it may indicate the need to adjust the policy or provide additional training for staff.

You can read more about the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) and what it means for schools in another article from The Key.

For examples of equality policies see the following one of our articles:

This article was updated in response to a question from the school business manager of a small urban primary school in Yorkshire and Humberside.

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