0370 270 6000

New Guidance on Behaviour in Schools: What has changed?

28 July 2022

This month the Department for Education (“DfE”) released new guidance on behaviour in schools which has substantial changes from the previous guidance from 2016.

Whilst the focus of the old guidance was on disciplinary measures and appropriate sanctions, the new guidance moves more towards school culture, a whole school approach to tackling behaviour and, for those who need it, additional support to meet behavioural expectations.

A Whole School Approach

This means that schools should ensure high standards of behaviour that “pervade all aspects of school life including the culture, ethos, and values of the school, how pupils are taught and encouraged to behave”. Staff should have training on the behaviour policy and model the expected behaviour and pupils should be routinely inducted and reminded of expectations.

The new guidance suggests implementing a “behaviour curriculum” which clearly sets out what positive behaviour should look like. The ultimate aim under the new guidance is to create a calm, safe and supportive environment that limits disruption.

Supporting Pupils with Additional Needs

The 2022 guidance has a new, stronger focus on support and interventions for pupils who need it to be able to meet the school’s behaviour expectations. Schools should anticipate likely triggers of misbehaviour in such pupils and provide appropriate support.

Where pupils are identified as having Special Educational Needs (SEN), schools should consider whether the pupil understood their misbehaviour and whether it is appropriate to impose a sanction. Where sanctions are imposed, schools should consider what support to offer following the sanction.

Preventing Misbehaviour

There is an emphasis on prevention of misbehaviour and putting support in place through re-integration strategies and targeted interventions. The new guidance offers various options on how this can be implemented. This falls in line with the cultural/whole school approach.

Again, there is a focus on pupils who will need more support than others and this support should be provided as proactively as possible. Examples include mentoring as well as engagement with parents, local partners, and professionals.

Pupil Support Units can also be used as an intervention in place of mainstream lessons to improve behaviour, but the goal should always be reintegration.


There has been no significant change to the range of appropriate sanctions.

However, guidance on use of ‘Seclusion/Isolation Rooms’ has been replaced with ‘Removal from the Classroom’. The bar has been raised for use of this sanction as it should only be used “when necessary and once other behavioural strategies in the classroom have been attempted, unless the behaviour is so extreme as to warrant immediate removal”, rather than as a means of removing disruptive pupils. There is more detailed guidance on the governance of removal, including consideration of any SEN and involvement of social workers.

Other Changes

Other changes include a focus on data analysis to help inform policy and practice. This will assist schools in identifying where they are failing to offer appropriate support.

There is also guidance on how to deal specifically with child-on-child sexual abuse, online behaviour incidents, mobile phones, and criminal behaviour; all issues which schools are increasingly having to deal with. Within the new guidance there is an evident increased focus on safeguarding.

It is worth noting that the searching, seizing and confiscation guidance from the DfE has also been updated and is coming into force in September. It contains a number of changes from the previous version with additional safeguards for pupils and advice on conducting searches in the wake of Child Q.

What do you need to do?

Schools should review their behaviour policy on an annual basis. You should ensure that your policy is in line with both statutory requirements and the new guidance. You can find out about our suite of template policies for schools and academies here.

You may want to look at what the school is doing to create a culture of positive behaviour and an environment where expected behaviour is modelled and rewarded, and misbehaviour prevented. You may want to take inspiration from other schools or talk to staff, parents and pupils about their ideas.

Whatever the policy and practice you chose to follow, you should ensure that staff and pupils are clear about what is expected from them.

For all the support you need to manage school exclusions visit:

Training and events


EdCon2023: Planning for the future Online

We're delighted to offer you a complimentary invitation to our EdCon2023 online platform - a virtual event space where you will have the opportunity to hear from our education lawyers and HR experts.

View event

Focus on...

Legal updates

Hair discrimination – stop pupils being unfairly singled-out for their appearance

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHCR) has issued new, non-statutory guidance regarding the wearing of natural or protective hairstyles, specifically in reference to their representation in uniform, behaviour or standalone appearance policies. This guidance has been designed to complement and enhance the guidance already given on school uniform and Equality Act 2010.


Legal updates

School complaint management - exploring a new way forward

There’s greater opportunity than ever for parents, carers and guardians to voice any concerns they have relating to their child’s education and for their concerns to be heard and to be taken seriously.



The role of benchmarking in setting pay in schools

The use of salary benchmarking data is common place in most sectors in the UK and it’s great to see that CST’s salary survey for school trusts is growing with a higher number of participating organisations and included job roles. This years’ survey includes over 2000 job roles and 147 participating organisations.



Virtual AGMs

This guidance has been prepared to support academy trusts (Trusts) who want to hold a fully virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) or a hybrid AGM, as we know that Trusts may want to be prepared for future disruption as well as having a general interest in holding more meetings virtually.


The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

Mailing list sign up

Select which mailings you would like to receive from us.

Sign up