Sam Strickland, principal of The Duston School in Northamptonshire, recently released his third published work The Behaviour Manual - An Educator's Guidebook. His latest book seeks to help any school, school leader, middle leader, teacher, ECT or ITT pro-actively lead on behaviour.
Speaking to The Leaders Council about the book following its release in May 2022, Strickland [pictured] spoke at length about the work itself, its intentions and his motivations behind writing it. He informed us that the book was carefully designed around the needs of the profession and constructed so that anyone at any level and of any experience within a school can easily pick up the book, read and digest a key approach or strategy in minutes. To facilitate this, the book is very intentionally written in a clear, straightforward, and open style.
Strickland explained: “This is the third book I’ve written and in many regards it’s the one I should have written first. I’m a firm believer that if you establish a positive culture and strong approaches to behaviour, then teachers can teach, and students can learn, and this makes everybody far more successful.
“Our school is a behavioural hub which works nationally with the Department for Education [DfE] and in supporting other schools. Behaviour is an area we’re experts in and have a passion and a drive for. The motivation behind writing the book was to share this expertise and experience, and I’ve tried to weave research into it with a practical edge, and ultimately produce something that people can pick up and put down and then, quite easily and readily, trial things themselves at speed. We don’t have great amounts of time in this profession, so it is deliberately aimed at people who don’t have time as a luxury.”
The book itself offers more than 100 strategies, approaches and teaching methods spanning three broad sections.
The first section is entitled ‘the mothership’, which looks at schools in the holistic sense and is aimed at senior leadership such as principals, head teachers, CEOs and governors.
The second section, known as ‘the satellite’, considers the middle layer within school settings. These include heads of year, heads of house, pastoral leads and subject leaders. The third section then explores the ‘micro level’: classroom teachers.
Each section comes with its own introduction and conclusion and an array of strategies and approaches that each school can consider, utilise and adopt as part of their day-to-day behavioural approaches.
Strickland said: “The idea behind the book is really in the name. It is to serve as a manual guide for anybody who works within a school. It might be that you want to do a five-minute dip in and dip out to sample a particular strategy which you can trial in your own classroom or school setting. On the flip side, you might want to read the book from cover to cover and it contains over 100 key strategies or approaches in total.
“Each has its own spread of two-to-three information pages explaining the approach itself and straightforward instructions as to how you might make it work, a positive advice section and a warning section of pitfalls to consider. It is meant to serve as a Bible sort of guide to behaviour and securing a positive culture in a broad, holistic, mothership school sort of sense but also within each individual classroom setting as well.”
Sharing some insight as to the types of teachings the book can offer, Strickland continued: “In the ‘mothership’ section, one of the first things referenced is the importance of your strategic improvement planning and considering what it is you want for your school and why. It makes you think about what you want the roles of your senior leaders to be. It can often be easy to miss that and go down the route of a set of rules or a behaviour policy in this area, which are ultimately just words on a page.
“Sometimes, we miss the deeper thinking that underpins the systems, the approaches, the routines, the explanation of why we need to behave in this way, and why we have these systems. This then feeds into how we train staff to be confident and successful in putting in practice the things we want to be in place.”
Sam Strickland recently joined us on The Leaders Council Podcast to discuss the release of The Behaviour Manual - An Educator's Guidebook. The full interview can be seen below.
The Behaviour Manual – An Educator’s Guidebook can be purchased on Amazon.