At Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) we recognise the role that a disruption-free learning environment plays in enabling students to reach their full potential, both academically and socially. We also recognise that creating a positive working environment for teaching staff improves job satisfaction and reduces turnover, ensuring that we are able to attract and retain a skilled workforce. As part of ‘Vision 2030’, our goal is for all classrooms across LAT academies to be free from disruption, with students ready to learn and teachers who are equipped to educate and inspire.

In order to achieve this goal, we are actively tackling various challenges that often hinder improvements in this area. LAT’s work to counter these challenges includes:

  • Establishing a clear vision and ensuring that this is communicated to all staff and students.
  • Providing thorough induction programmes for new staff and students alike.
  • Setting and maintaining high expectations across the board; promoting consistency between staff and across all departments, to further embed rules and routines. 
  • Creating an environment where leadership presence is high; conducting regular ‘academy walks’ to support staff, reinforce expectations, and identify behaviour patterns early on – with observations shared and discussed. 
  • Improving classroom management skills; providing training and guidance where required.
  • Managing and reducing workload pressures on staff, with expectations outlined in LAT’s Workload Charter.
  • Ensuring that members of the senior leadership team are present and on-hand to guide and support staff day-to-day where necessary, and that in turn those leaders are supported at a higher level.

Across LAT, 52% of our academies are judged Outstanding by Ofsted for Behaviour & Attitudes (Feb 2024)

Creating a disruption-free learning environment

Leigh Academies Trust (LAT) takes a ‘warm-strict’ approach to behaviour management; providing clear structures which enable students and staff to thrive. Warm-strict means no excuses, so that whenever disruption occurs, sanctions are an automatic certainty given without severity. Similarly, the reward systems in place recognise positive behaviours which we wish to encourage. Under a warm-strict approach consequences are temporary, after which the behaviour is forgiven. This approach also distinguishes between behaviour and people, using language that focuses on the action rather than the student. Sanctions for repeated disruption then escalate in a well-defined, widely-communicated system.

The entire system is embedded within academy life, representing its own curriculum; with successful behaviours clearly identified. Students begin learning the behaviour curriculum from their very first day, and are taught what positive behaviour looks like in the context of the academy’s values. They are shown what types of behaviour are expected and encouraged, and what is prohibited; with routines in place to reinforce the positive behaviours that are expected of all students. Reasonable adjustments are made for students with additional needs where appropriate. Equally, a student’s unique circumstances may require the introduction of some temporary adjustments, such as them being excused from following a routine for a period of time.

The process of embedding a behaviour curriculum across every academy is achieved through investing significant amounts of professional development time in effective behaviour management; understanding the reasons why a student may misbehave, and sharing the knowledge required to address this behaviour with peers. This knowledge sharing extends beyond the immediate academy environment, with individual academies reaping the benefits of being part of a wider Trust which prioritises working together above working in isolation. This is all made possible through LAT’s digital strategy, which ensures that staff are able to communicate and share ideas with each other – despite the distance between them – with ease. 

Reflecting the emphasis LAT places on establishing disruption-free learning (DFL) environments across the breadth of the Trust, a dedicated DFL group has been formed. The role of this group has been to identify what is and is not successful in encouraging positive behaviour in the classroom through rigorous research and study of both external and internal data on this subject. The group monitors each new approach following its implementation in the classroom to identify areas of improvement. In its first year, the DFL group observed a rapid decline (by an average of 30%) in negative behaviour events, demonstrating the impact of consistently applied principles across several academies. This same level of success is expected to be replicated across the entire Trust over time, in line with LAT’s Vision