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In this blog Jonathan Bell, Principal of Werneth Primary School and Director of Primary School Development at The Pinnacle Learning Trust, addresses the challenges of cognitive overload and diverse educational needs. By implementing a school-wide strategy focused on consistency, accessibility, the careful selection of teaching practices, and the interweaving of evidence from a range of guidance reports, Jonathan showcases a commitment to fostering positive learning environments and outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable pupils.

When considering behaviour in classrooms, our first thoughts often turn to learners’ ​conduct’: how well they signal that they are listening, respond to requests and behave towards each other. By viewing ​learning behaviour through the lens of Ellis and Todd’s (2018) definition as a behaviour that is necessary in order for a person to learn effectively in the group setting of the classroom and through the eyes of children, we can more effectively consider how leaders can play a collective role in fostering these behaviours, understand their impact and strive for consistency in promoting healthy learning habits and desirable behaviours in children, with Recommendation 6, ​Consistency is Key’ in Improving Behaviour in Schools, at the forefront of professional development for all.

Put simply, if every adult our children encounter asks them to behave (learn) in a different way in many different subjects, this is likely to increase cognitive load and the child may be unable to perform at their best. We might not like to think that we do this… we have policies after all! But, over the course of a child’s primary school journey, how many different ways would you estimate that they are asked to line up for assembly, answer questions (hands up/​down?!) or be rewarded? So, whilst we might be considering Recommendation 3 and training teachers, we need to also be mindful of the importance of consistency across the school and Recommendation 1 in the Metacognition and Self-regulation guidance report.

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