St Benedict’s Secondary School

John Lewis CSR partnershipChichester College

“Helping students become more self-aware empowered them to manage their own behaviour, and resolve issues and problems themselves.”

St Benedict's is a small Catholic upper school; accepting students aged 13 to 18. The school is rated outstanding by Ofsted, consistently placed among the top schools in Suffolk for GCSE and A-level results, and positioned highly on national league tables. The school's mission statement is to grow students into ‘effective Christians for the modern world'. By recognising the unique importance of each individual student, they seek to ensure all are helped and guided to achieve their full potential.

The challenge

Andy Watts, Assistant Head explains. “The school felt some students were not achieving their potential as a result of disengagement or poor behaviour. We wanted to reduce the number of negative performance indicators for this group, including external exclusions, internal inclusions, removals from class and negative referrals.”

The solution

The school ran a pilot study using Thomas assessments to improve the performance of underachieving students, and the behaviour of disruptive students.

The intention was to make the students more self-aware and encourage them to take more personal responsibility for their behaviour.

The study was jointly funded by St Benedict's and the local council. Six staff members across a range of functions (including Head of English, Head of Year, Behaviour Support Manager and a Connexions Advisor) were trained to administer, interpret and feedback Thomas' behavioural assessment, (PPA), aptitude and ability assessment (GIA) and trait emotional intelligence assessment (TEIQue).

63 students from Year 10 were identified as potential participants for the study and put into two groups: those exhibiting ‘challenging' behaviours and underachievers who were disengaged and just ‘drifting' through school.

The results

“The impact of the assessments was huge, with a reduction of over 90% in external exclusions, internal inclusions, removals from class and negative referrals.”

“Among the majority with poor attendance records attendance improved, and positive referrals increased from one in the period prior to the assessments, to 28 after assessment feedback had been given.”

Once the students received their feedback their behaviour quickly changed. Helping students become more self-aware empowered them to manage their own behaviour better and enabled them to resolve issues and problems themselves.

“For example, a student who was aggressive in class and spent a significant amount of time in the inclusion unit transformed his behaviour after receiving his assessment feedback. Understanding the reasons behind his anger helped him modify his behaviour and calm himself down.”

“Another student who tended to be disruptive in maths and science classes struggled with the GIA Number Speed and Accuracy test. This meant he had difficulty processing numerical concepts quickly. The student needed to slow down and give himself more time to assimilate numerical information. Once the student and his teachers understood the cause of his behaviour they were able to deal with it more effectively, resulting in an improvement in his behaviour and his grades.”

The Thomas reports provided a common language between educationalists and students, allowing students to talk in real terms about themselves, rather than in ‘teacher speak'. This enabled a more realistic dialogue between the parties than would previously have been possible.

The results show Thomas assessments have enormous benefits, in all sorts of ways, for all sorts of students. The time invested in staff training (four days), delivery of the assessments and one to one student feedback (one lesson each) is a small price to pay for the benefits. Students were overwhelmingly positive about the experience and felt everyone should have the opportunity to go through the feedback process and develop their self-awareness.”

Next steps

“We are repeating the process using the behavioural assessment (PPA) and aptitude and ability measure (GIA) with our current Year 10 students. The emphasis of the programme is self-development – empowering students to improve themselves – and as a consequence improving the atmosphere and quality of lessons for the whole year.”

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