Book: A School without Sanctions via @BloomsburyEd

Published by Bloomsbury Education

A school without sanctions













  • Explores challenging behaviours through the lens of neuroscience and psychology.
  • Clear, practical strategies and tips offered throughout that aim to avoid conflict in schools.
  • Although most of the strategies worked in a boys school, most can be used in any secondary school.
  • The toolkit offered is full of common-sense suggestions, all linked back to the neuroscience and psychology.
  • Perfect for teachers who often face challenging behaviours, students or situations where an understanding of what is going on is needed.

Supported by Bloomsbury Education

In a world full of advice on how to manage students in schools – from behaviour specialists, self-proclaimed behaviour guru’s, or politicians who have not actually stepped foot in a main-stream school – it is often refreshing to hear positive behaviour management stories from those on the front-line. It is even more refreshing when those drafted into classrooms have undertaken extensive research and understanding at strategies that recognise the development of the brains of young people.

Most young people who enter our schools on a daily basis come loaded with a lot of emotional baggage, and the relationships that they form with their peers and staff can play a crucial part in their outlook of the world, building aspirations and growing into considered, well-rounded individuals – or not – the balance can sometimes easily tip one way or another. Challenging behaviours can often stem from a complex of reasons – internal or external – and punishments do not work for us all. This is the clear assertion made towards the beginning of ‘A School without sanctions – a new approach to behaviour management‘ by Steven Baker and Mick Simpson, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago when filming a presentation for the 2017 UKEdChat Online Conference (see video below). Working closely with Dr Alice Jones Bartoli from Goldsmith’s University, they developed a sanction-free approach to behaviour management. Their setting, set in an economically deprived area of Merseyside, is a special school for boys with social, emotional and mental health difficulties, saw an amazing transformation that began to improve student-staff relationships, designed on a toolbox of non-confrontational approaches based on neuroscience and evolutionary psychology.

Through the book, Baker & Simpson set the scene of the challenges that they faced, before starting to outline the strategies that were developed to create a calmer, happier school setting. Attention is given to an understanding of the limbic system in our brains, exploring the reptilian complex igniting our fight or flight response, and how that impacts in an educational setting. Little attention is given to this crucial area within teacher training, so it is understandable how some colleagues cannot react when pupils display challenging behaviour. Some of the responses to challenging behaviours suggested may, in fact, go against natural reactions, such as showing the students that you actually like them, respecting personal space, taking care with your own body language, and even modelling the behaviour you would like to see.

The toolkit offered is full of common-sense suggestions, all linked back to the neuroscience and psychology aligned with supporting developing brains and positivity, along with offering subtle little changes to your teaching repertoire that is likely to be received more positively, even in the most challenging of situations. Emotional intelligence is the aspiration for our students, and a chapter dedicated to the topic offers the acronym RULER (Recognise emotions; Understand their causes and consequences; Label them with nuanced vocabulary; Express them in accordance with cultural norms and social context, and; Regulate them with helpful strategies), to help support situations. Subsequent chapters explore learning and behaviour, trauma, and wellbeing (staff and students) – all filled with ideas and strategies to promote a positive and supportive school environment.

This book is perfect for teachers who often face challenging behaviours, students or situations where an understanding of what is going on is needed. The exploration of the systems within our brains is well explained, and placed into a context that many educators will understand. Negative, traditional and (often) cruel sanctions in schools are not needed and can be avoided with careful consideration, training and support. This book starts that process, and if you are in a leadership or management position within schools and want to revisit strategies that take place in your setting, then explore the ideas offered.



See the video presentation created for the 2017 UKEdChat Online Conference below:

*Price correct at time of publication

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About @digicoled 446 Articles
Colin Hill – Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.
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