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None of you would be unfamiliar with the phenomena of a department, authority body, CEO or government passing down a directive to schools that feels a little like a wish without a plan.

I noticed with interest a new policy that was recently released to NSW Government Schools around ambitions to make these schools more inclusive, engaging and respectful.

As an ambition, I guess it’s not a bad one.

I also don’t object to a specific sentence in the policy that aims for “… a shift away from a checklist and a stronger focus on the context and impact of behaviour.”

But how will schools do this?

What’s being asked of them is quite a fundamental and belief-based response. Effectively, they’re being asked to abandon the programs, matrixes and flowcharts that they’ve invested huge tracts of time, energy and budget in for the last couple of decades.

We’re asking them to not only change their strategy, but their minds. That’s a big deal to practitioners who’ve been busting a gut at the coalface, many for decades.

Look, policy is supposed to point organisations in the right direction … and this does it. That’s good news.

The hard part for schools is that the how is yet to be addressed, clarified or resourced.

As you plan for 2023, I recommend that your school gets your head around this philosophical shift and plan for a more nuanced approach to student behaviour. Because, when NSW sneezes, the rest of the country typically gets a cold.

Keep fighting that good fight,

PS. I wrote a plan for this very task a couple of years ago called Restoring Teaching. It’s free (just pay for the postage) at this link. Grab yourself a copy now or you can also arrange multiple copies.

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