How can school councils reduce violence in schools?

Is behaviour getting worse in schools? Do pupils treat their teachers and classmates with respect? Research published by ATL today suggests not, but school councils can provide learning on empathy, responsibility and improve relationships throughout the school.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) has found that a nearly a quarter of school and college staff have endured physical violence from a student.  87% have had to deal with disruptive students.

Poor behaviour in schools is a problem that must be addressed by the whole school community: staff, governors, parents and pupils.

School councils can be a focus for this, indeed, we see more and more school councils effectively promoting politeness and respect in their schools as well as setting up behaviour panels to deal with low-level disruption.

Pupils who are actively engaged in pupil voice projects learn how to empathise, problem-solve and act responsibly. So schools need to ensure that every pupil is engaged with these sorts of activities, whether it is through class councils, action groups or other structures.

Prof. Geoff Whitty’s 2007 research for the DCSF found that where school council had a particular focus on developing pupils’ social and emotional skills, 88% were effective.

School Councils UK’s research backed this up, finding that in most schools relationships between pupils and between pupils and staff had improved as a result of a focus on their school council.

So our formula for improving behaviour in schools is:

  • Set up whole school methods for discussion and action (e.g. class councils)
  • Ensure one of the foci is behaviour/relationships
  • Set up a sub-committee on behaviour/relationships that co-ordinates pupils, staff and parents to identify problems, find solutions, carry them out and evaluate them
  • Share your successes with us so we can give your good ideas to other schools

Easy, eh? Obviously not, so if you’d like to talk through how your school council could help improve behaviour in your school please give us a call on 0845 456 9428 or 020 7482 8915 or email


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