This research examines current practices and needs in relation to behaviour support in selected primary schools in the Republic of Ireland and examines whether practices and needs differ depending on location, school gender and perspectives of respondents. It seeks to determine whether the needs could be met with a whole-school positive behaviour support programme.
Whole-school positive behaviour support is underpinned by two psychological theories, namely Behaviourism and Systems Change. The three-staged methodological approach involved Department of Education and Science (DES) Primary School Directory for eligible schools, qualitative and quantitative data, with a combination of questionnaires, interviews and focus-group interviews with principals, teachers and pupils.
The majority of respondents agreed that current practices in behaviour support at school-level included the following: behaviour rules are enforced consistently, staff roles are clear and school behaviour rules are fair. On whether current practices differed between location, school gender and perspective, no significant differences were found in relation to location but significant differences were found in school gender on two variables and on perspective of respondents on all three variables.
The most important needs according to principals and teachers were consistency between school staff and rules systematically taught. Principals also chose behaviour management training for school personnel while teachers chose rewards and consequences. Pupils chose respect between pupils and teachers, social skills taught, rewards and consequences, and consistency between school staff.
On whether needs differed depending on location, school gender and perspective, no significant difference was noted by respondents in relation to location on the most important needs. No significant difference in school gender was noted except on the offer of a school behaviour programme. However, significant differences were found depending on perspective of respondents on rules systematically taught, consistency between school staff, rewards and consequences and respect between pupils and teachers.
The research concluded that a Whole-School Positive Behaviour Support Programme would be a good fit for Irish primary schools as it answered the needs highlighted by respondents. Additionally, it is flexible and can accommodate each school‟s unique ethos and culture.
The research concluded with recommendations at macro and micro levels.