In recent years there has been an emphasis on improving the delivery of
curriculum as the way to improve the learning outcomes of schools. This
push for ‘productive pedagogy’ has been driven by academics and senior
education officers and reflects the long held belief that if the
lessons are stimulating and rewarding learning will follow despite
other issues facing schools.
issue facing schools at this time is the difficulty caused by student’s
disruptive behaviour. This has been a major concern identified in the
recent Vinson Report and Education Departments have acknowledged it as
evidenced by the huge investments made to deal with the problems caused
by students with dysfunctional behaviour.
relates how one school, Holsworthy High, developed a total learning
environment in which the human factors and relationships are addressed
to underpin successful curriculum delivery. The illustration below
summarizes the Holsworthy Model.
this presentation does not discuss the crucial role of curriculum
delivery it is in no way devaluing the vital role it plays. The view
taken is that unless the other qualities of a Learning Environment are
not in place there is little time for teaching and learning to take
Discipline and Welfare.
A structured approach to discipline ensures that there is strong
predictability between the actions of students and the consequences
that follow. That is, if a student misbehaves in class every one knows
the consequences that will follow. The formation of rules for the class
and for the whole school creates a predictable setting where both
students and teachers can become certain about actions that must be
taken. This certainty reduces stress levels for all members of the
It is imperative that the welfare component of the whole school policy
is such that students and teachers who are particularly needy are
identified and the limited resources available are best utilized. The
welfare policy has a descending level of outcomes which identifies
students on the degree of their behaviour disability.
The emphasis on expectations is more sophisticated than just that we
have clearly defined standards of behaviour. Recent work by Clinch has
shown that there is a direct correlation between a student’s
understanding of the school’s expectations and their knowledge of these
expectations. Further there is an expectation students experience on an
emotional level that is based on their past experiences. For example a
student who has predominately endured failure with a particular subject
will come to the lessons with an anticipation that this frustration
will continue. At Holsworthy the school has adopted a program that has
great promise in reversing this expectation.
It is of primary importance that all members of the school community
have a sense that they are valued within the community and that the
community itself is of value. In a dysfunctioning school, students and
teachers are too often locked in toxic relationships where the
behaviour repertoire is more about controlling the other through
psychological or physical threat rather than supporting. To address
these problems, teachers in the first part are taught to identify the
gambits students are likely to use to avoid their responsibilities and
resist submitting to their pressures. The teachers develop strong
boundaries which allow them to remain calm and in control of their own
The school is
also very aware of the impact of language in building a relationship
with the students. Language has a great influence on provoking emotions
and emotions are significant in driving behaviour. The difference is as
subtle as changing from “What are you doing?”, which may provoke guilt,
to “How can I help you get back on task?” which implies support.
Positive relationships are capable of the most profound changes in a
student’s learning outcomes.
The development of a Learning Environment takes a good deal of time and
is ongoing. At Holsworthy, the introduction has been systematic and
staged with the first step raising an awareness in the need to change.
Structured Discipline and Welfare is the easiest to achieve and
superficially the most dramatic. When this was achieved the more
significant aspects of the model, expectations and relationships have
been introduced. Teachers and students have been encouraged and
supported to try new approaches.
This process has been underway for three years and is still not
completed. The structure is well in place and much work has been done
on the other components. Results in behaviour improvements and learning
outcomes have been dramatic. On every measure there has been a positive
shift in the culture of the school and 2002 HSC results have shown a