Behaviour in Scottish schools: 2016 research

This report is from the fourth (2016) wave of behaviour in Scottish schools research, first undertaken in 2006.

2 Introduction

2.1 On behalf of the Learning Directorate Health and Wellbeing Unit, the Scottish Government Education Analytical Services Division commissioned Ipsos MORI to undertake a fourth wave of the Behaviour in Scottish Schools Research. Previous waves took place in 2006, 2009 and 2012. The research explored staff, pupils' and parents' experiences of relationships and behaviour in Scottish schools.

2.2 The purpose of the research was to inform the development of policy, guidance and support on relationships and behaviour in schools. Ultimately, this will contribute to the following national outcomes:

  • our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed
  • our children are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens
  • the life chances for children, young people, and families at risk have been improved.

Policy context

2.3 This research sits within the domain of national policy priorities and initiatives to support the wellbeing of children and young people. The Early Years Framework 2009 sets out Scottish Government policy to ensure that children and young people get the most positive start in life through an early intervention and prevention strategy. The approach focusses on securing high quality relationships for children and young people to support early learning and development. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 reinforces the early years strategy to ensure that the provision of early learning and childcare supports the personal development, social integration and lifelong learning of children and young people.

2.4 Curriculum for Excellence ( CfE) is designed to support the wellbeing of children and young people through a coherent approach to curriculum development to ensure that children have the best opportunities in life, learning and work. Central to the delivery of CfE is the development of good relations and behaviour in the school community. The attributes and capabilities approach of CfE emphasises developing positive relationships in the school community to ensure that children and young people have a supportive learning environment. Policy in learning instils the idea that an ethos of mutual respect and trust has the most positive impact on the learning and development of children and young people.

2.5 The importance of health and wellbeing is reflected in its position at the centre of the curriculum and at the heart of children's learning – as well as being a central focus of the Scottish Attainment Challenge and the National Improvement Framework for Education. Wellbeing is also at the heart of Getting it Right For Every Child ( GIRFEC) which recognises that every child and young person has the right to expect appropriate support from adults to allow them to grow and develop their full potential. This is now enshrined in legislation in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

2.6 'Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A positive approach to preventing and managing school exclusions' emphasises the need for learning establishments to place a greater importance on inclusion through effective learning and teaching; promoting positive relationships and behaviour; and employment of preventative approaches which reduce the need to consider exclusion.

2.7 The policy guidance Better Relationships, Better Learning, Better Behaviour 2013 provides policy guidance on key priority areas to improve the relationships and behaviour in schools. The Scottish Advisory Group on Relationships and Behaviour in Schools ( SAGRABIS) is developing priority actions to improve relationships and behaviour of children and young people by:

  • continuing to develop and embed policies to support relationships, behaviour and wellbeing
  • developing the ethos of the school community, focussing on the mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing of staff and pupils
  • supporting and training support staff to promote positive behaviour
  • developing guidance on mobile technology, social networking and internet safety
  • ensuring consistency of positive relationships in the home and learning environments.

Aims and objectives

2.8 The overall aim of the research was to provide a clear and robust picture of relationships and behaviour in publicly-funded mainstream schools and of current policy and practice in relation to supporting relationships and behaviour.

2.9 The 2016 wave of the research built on previous waves by providing an analysis of:

  • the nature and extent of positive and negative behaviours in schools, including trends over time (2006-2016): what has improved, become worse and stayed the same
  • the factors linked to positive/negative behaviours including school factors (such as size); the demographic profile of the pupils (such as levels of deprivation and the proportion of pupils with Additional Support Needs); and the profile of teachers (such as length of service)
  • the range of different approaches used in schools to support relationships and behaviour and staff perceptions of which are most effective in different circumstances
  • the impact of the use of digital technologies in learning and teaching on behaviour
  • staff perceptions of school ethos and culture with regard to the promotion of positive relationships and behaviour, including the effectiveness of support given to staff in their work to encourage positive relationships and manage negative behaviour; the confidence of staff in their ability to do so; and the ways in which incidents of serious disruptive behaviour are followed up.
  • pupil perspectives on what engages them in their learning and how schools can support them in their learning and wider school experience
  • parent perspectives on the approachability and accessibility of schools in relation to their children's behaviour and relationships at school.

Report structure

2.10 The next chapter provides details of the research methodology, and in the following chapters we discuss the findings. Each of the latter chapters contains a summary of key findings at the start and, to help distinguish between findings from the quantitative survey and the qualitative research, sections discussing the latter have a pale pink background. The report ends with conclusions and implications for policy and practice.

2.11 It should be noted that, because the survey has been running for a number of years, some of the language in the questionnaire (and therefore the reporting of the findings) may seem a little out of date. However, it was important to keep the language consistent with previous waves in order to ensure robust trend data.


Back to top