4 Respond to challenging behaviour
The following information outlines strategies for addressing behaviour concerns or if a student has a chronic pattern of challenging behaviour.
Immediate actions if a situation is escalating
Follow up with a longer term intervention plan to prevent inappropriate behaviour in the future.
Successful interventions require:
- strong staff-student relationships
- an understanding of the underlying factors influencing behaviour
- an understanding of the immediate triggers for its occurrence.
For example, issuing a detention might be an appropriate response to a student who is being highly disruptive in a class. The teacher or staff member should also identify the reasons and triggers for the behaviour and address these where possible to reduce future problems.
Any decisions made about addressing challenging behaviours should be clearly documented and discussed with the student’s parent or carer.
Where students repeatedly demonstrate challenging behaviour, schools should implement more structured intervention strategies as part of a staged response to address the behaviour. Strategies can include:
- Assess the behaviour, focus on its influences, triggers and function (such as what purpose it serves). This should involve observation and talking with the student, their family and relevant wellbeing professionals.
- Develop a and/or individual education plan.
- Consider if any environmental changes need to be made, for example changing the classroom set up.
- Explicit teaching of replacement behaviours (recognise students will need time to practice these before they become habit).
- Engage appropriate support services, such as a student welfare coordinator, or community agencies to undertake assessments and/or provide specialist support.
- Establish a to establish the student’s needs and supports required.
- Implement appropriate disciplinary measures that are proportionate to problem behaviours.
- Consider alternative learning or behaviour management options such as student development centres or re-engagement programs.
For available supports and programs from the Department, refer to:
Responding to challenging behaviour
Teachers spend the most time with students, therefore support and discipline responses should always involve the classroom teacher.
Where there are ongoing behaviour issues, teachers should work with school leadership and/or school wellbeing staff to get specialist support for the student. For serious behavioural issues where suspension or expulsion is being considered, the principal must be directly involved in decision-making.
For students who are engaging in biting or spitting behaviours, schools can refer to the following resources in the Resources tab:
Challenging behaviour training
- Prevent, Teach, Reinforce
- Behaviour Response Planning
- Managing Challenging Behaviour.
The courses will:
- enhance understanding of the factors influencing behaviour
- build skills in promoting positive behaviour
- build skills in responding to challenging behaviour.
Schools should keep detailed records of instances of challenging behaviour and management responses reported by students, teachers, non-school based staff and the school community.
Records of behaviour incidents should focus on the facts of a situation and not include vague or unsubstantiated claims or value judgements.
CASES21 has a section to record disciplinary action taken and sanctions imposed on a student involved in a behavioural incident.
In addition, the Student Online Case System (SOCS) is a referral and data system for case management of students referred to student support services.
The purpose of good record keeping practice is to:
- allow staff to monitor the behaviour and wellbeing of individual students
- ensure student behaviour is being responded to in a consistent and staged manner
- monitor the effectiveness of strategies used
- support principals in their decision-making process concerning suspensions and expulsions.
Training for extreme behaviour associated with a disability
We offer a professional learning program for school leadership teams, teachers and education support officers working with students who display extreme and challenging behaviour associated with a disability.
Reviewed 21 December 2021