Education Endowment Foundation:Improving Behaviour in Schools

Improving Behaviour in Schools

Six recommendations for improving behaviour in schools

Misbehaviour in lessons is something that has been documented by teachers for centuries. And while most pupils in most lessons are well-behaved, it’s a major cause of stress for teachers and can have a lasting impact on the outcomes of the pupils in the class. There’s a clear need for school to have consistent and clear behaviour policies that promote positive behaviour in lessons. 

This EEF guidance report is designed to support senior leaders in primary and secondary schools to make better-informed decisions about their behaviour strategies. It includes a number of practical examples of programmes and approaches that should be helpful in schools and classrooms where behaviour is generally good as where there are problems.

To develop this report’s six recommendations for improving behaviour we not only reviewed the best available international research, but also consulted with teachers and other experts. As with all EEF guidance reports, its publication is just the start of how we aim to support schools in implementing these recommendations. We will now be working with the sector, including through our colleagues in the Research Schools Network, to build on them with further training, resources and tools. 

This report is well-timed for school leaders to consider alongside the recent Timpson report on exclusions, and to be part of professional conversations around behaviour that will be central to the Department for Education’s Behaviour Support Networks.

Guidance Report

First Edition


Evidence Review



School Phase


Know and understand your pupils and their influences

Pupil behaviour has multiple influences, some of which teachers can manage directly.

Understanding a pupil’s context will inform effective responses to misbehaviour.

Every pupil should have a supportive relationship with a member of school staff.


Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour

Teaching learning behaviours will reduce the need to manage misbehaviour.

Teachers can provide the conditions for learning behaviours to develop by ensuring pupils can access the curriculum, engage with lesson content and participate in their learning.

Teachers should encourage pupils to be self-reflective of their own behaviours.


Use classroom management strategies to support good classroom behaviour

Effective classroom management can reduce challenging behaviour, pupil disengagement, bullying and aggression.

Improving classroom management usually involves intensive training with teachers reflecting on their classroom management, trying a new approach and reviewing their progress over time.

Reinforcement programmes based on pupils gaining rewards can be effective when part of a broader classroom management strategy.


Use simple approaches as part of your regular routine

Some strategies that don’t require complex pedagogical changes have been shown to be promising.

Breakfast clubs, greeting children at the door and working with parents can all support good behaviour.

School leaders should ensure the school behaviour policy is clear and consistently applied.


Tailor targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in your school

Universal behaviour systems are unlikely to meet the needs of all your students.

For pupils with more challenging behaviour, the approach should be tailored to individual needs.

Teachers should be trained in specific strategies if supporting pupils with high behaviour needs.



Consistency and coherence at a whole-school level are paramount.

Whole-school changes usually take longer to embed than individually tailored or single-classroom approaches.

However, behaviour programmes are more likely to have an impact on attainment outcomes if implemented at whole-school level.



Review of the evidence commissioned by the EEF to inform the Improving Behaviour in Schools guidance report