John Bayley

Educational Training

Why Use An Outsider?

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Where the key principles outlined in 'Method - Getting Started' are in place a school is likely to improve. However, schools in which behaviour is an issue are usually characterised by an absence of one or more of those conditions. Sometimes there has been rapid staff turnover and post- holders are inexperienced or demoralized. The management team may be short-staffed or contain individuals who are unhappy with their present situation and lack optimism about the school. Sometime protracted periods of interim management have left confusions in areas of policy. Under these circumstances groups of children may feel they have the “upper-hand” in corridors or classrooms.

The school may require outside assistance in providing one or more of the missing elements. Outside contractors therefore commonly provide support in areas of policy, audit or training.


Not all outside support is useful or successful. There are a number of pitfalls to avoid. The three most important of these are rigidity of approach, lack of knowledge of the school narrative and deficit modelling.

Rigidity of Approach.

Standardized approaches to behaviour management are likely to fail if they are applied mechanistically. For example, while an initial audit is important, if it is over- elaborate or beyond the resources of the school it will encourage resistance – it is just another chore.

Lack of Knowledge of the School Narrative.

Every school has a specific story. Perhaps the heads of year do not have sufficient secretarial resources to manage home contacts. The management team may be divided about the usefulness of detentions. Staff may run independent and contradictory behaviour policies in different locations. If outside interventions are conducted in ignorance of such difficulties they are unlikely to be useful.

Deficit Modelling.

A danger implicit in outside interventions is that the outsider is telling people insiderthe organization how to do their job. There may indeed be a knowledge gradient in favour of the outsider, but if an intervention is going to bite and last it has to be based on the existing strengths and potentials of the staff and students inside school. This is particularly important in the area of behaviour management where individuals’ self-esteem is often at stake.

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