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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 09:11 GMT
Cutting disruption in schools
By Justin Parkinson
BBC News education reporter

Christine Quinn
Christine Quinn believes in simple rules for pupils
Schools have to work together to cut out misbehaviour, according to the Education Secretary, Ruth Kelly.

Two - or more - head teachers are better than one, it seems.

But can this approach really help eradicate problems such as truancy, violence, bullying and plain old naughtiness in class?

Christine Quinn, head teacher of Ninestiles Technology College in Birmingham, thinks it can.

Her school has formed a federation with two other secondaries nearby - Waverley Hall and the International School and College.


The three of them share simple rules, such as listening in class and bringing pens and rulers to lessons, which all pupils are told to follow.

Posters on most walls remind them to toe the line or face punishment.

Ms Quinn is at pains to suggest that simplicity, rather than some draconian urge for control, is at the heart of the "Behaviour for Learning" policy.

We have done well so far, but we keep raising expectations all the time
Christine Quinn

She told BBC News: "We always emphasise that it's about an expectation that behaviour should enable learning to happen.

"We want to give teachers the space to teach and learners the space to learn.

"We have to make it very clear what is expected. That way, people are less likely to deviate."


Parents, as well as children, are reminded of their responsibilities.

Ninestiles has had a chequered history but since 1994, when Behaviour for Learning started, the proportion of pupils getting five A* to C-grade GCSEs or equivalent has risen from 9% to 76.5% - above the English national average of 53.7%.

Such was its progress that it was chosen as an example for Waverley and the International School to follow.

Waverley became affiliated in 2001 and the five "good" GCSEs or equivalent pass rate has gone from 14% to 61%.

For the International School, which joined in 2003, the figure went from 9% to 34% in 2004 - almost a four-fold increase in just a year.

It is all very well one school improving, but how does it transmit its "ethos" of success?

Ms Quinn said: "One of the first things that happened in each school was the introduction of the behaviour policy.

'Come and watch'

"But to make a difference, we need to do more than just share good practice. We have to create a model for people to use - like shared rules - not just talk to them about it.

"Staff from other schools in the federation have come to watch how we work."

The three federation schools differ from most in having an over-arching, "executive" head, Sir Dexter Hutt.

Ms Quinn acknowledges that the parts of Birmingham they cover are not full of "leafy lanes" but suffer problems associated with economic deprivation.

However, she thinks other schools, in other circumstances, can still share ideas and behaviour policies.

She said: "You need to develop simple behavioural models which fit your own situation.

"We have done well so far, but we keep raising expectations all the time, which you have to do."

During the last year, representatives from around 70 other schools have visited federation members to find out what they are getting right.

Ms Quinn said: "We all have the same aim of allowing children to learn and teachers to do their job.

"Parents, children and staff have to work towards that if we are to get better."

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