Establishing Expectations, Rules and Routines at a school-wide level is the foundation of positive behaviour throughout the school. Rules and routines for all non-classroom settings need to be explicitly taught and consistently applied.
A small number of positively stated class rules and expectations should be chosen and explicitly taught by each teacher.
The NBSS works with schools on practical strategies for dealing with low-to-medium level disruption.

Focus Area: Expectations, Rules and Routines

Establishing expectations, rules and routines at Level 1 is the foundation of positive behaviour throughout the school. Rules, routines and expectations should be clear, achievable and explicitly taught throughout the curriculum. It is this school-wide approach to rules and routines which will see the percentage of students who comply most of the time increase.The following is a snapshot of how one school went about developing a consistent approach to expectations, rules and routines in the school.  

  1. Following the development of a new mission and vision for the school, it became apparent to the Positive Behaviour Strategy Team that the Code of Behaviour no longer fully represented how positive behaviour should best be promoted in the school. There was often a gap between the existing Code of Behaviour and actual day-to-day practices in the school and the Strategy Team wanted the new vision and mission statements to be living documents for their school.
  2. Following consultation with staff and NBSS personnel, it was decided to work on expectations, rules and routines as a prelude to a full review of the school’s Code of Behaviour in the following academic year.
  3. The process began with a staff session on school-wide expectations, rules and routines for the classroom and corridors. This session was facilitated by members of the Positive Behaviour Strategy Team and the NBSS RDO (Regioal Development Officer) for the school. During this session groups of staff identified the key expectations, rules and routines they believed were essential for the promotion of positive behaviour and the development of a consistent approach across the school. Following collation, the draft document was then returned to staff for further comment.
  4. This draft document was next brought to the Student Council and the Parents’ Association for consultation and commentary. Further expectations were added and routines simplified as a result of this consultation.
  5. The final stage in the process involved consultation with the Board of Management and the final document identified three key expectations - which were then subdivided into four classroom rules and routines and five corridor rules and routines for the school. These expectations were to be explicitly taught to each class group over a two week period by identified subject teachers and Tutors.
  6. All expectations, rules and routines were also produced in picture and poster format for each classroom and corridor and a student competition was held to choose the most vibrant, interesting and clear pictures and posters. The Art, English and Engineering departments and the Student Council took responsibility for the competitions, and prizes were presented at school morning assemblies.
  7. The result of the process resulted in improved behaviour across the school in and outside the classroom. Both staff and students described the benefits of improved clarity regarding rules and routines and increased community spirit contributing to making the school a happier place on a daily basis. Teachers also recorded a big reduction in inappropriate behaviour and pupil-teacher confrontations in classes and around the school. Individual teachers also felt more supported by colleagues and school management in the promotion of positive behaviour strategies and expectations.
  8. The explicit teaching and staged revisions of the expectations, rules and routines both in the classroom and during morning assemblies resulted in improved confidence in students and staff and a belief that further school improvements were possible. It also identified the students who needed additional supports and teaching to manage the school system and succeed at school.
  9. The next stage in the process involved the formation of two working groups in the school, each chaired by a member of the Positive Behaviour Strategy Team – a Code of Behaviour Review Working Group and a 1st Year Transition Working Group.