A positive behaviour intervention approach to discipline at a primary school in Port Elizabeth


Learner discipline has become a major concern in South African schools. A society of entitlement has been bred over the past 20 years. The school is an open system that influences its environment and is being influenced by it too. The most challenging concern, at least for teachers, is to create and to maintain a form of order and structure at schools. The troublesome situation has an impact on teachers as they have to spend more time addressing challenging behaviour instead of spending that time on teaching a set curriculum and syllabus. Unfortunately, teachers report feelings of being ill-prepared to deal effectively with the challenging behaviour of learners in schools. Hence it is imperative to consider strategies to foster school discipline to manage and modify challenging behaviour in schools. To date, most researches have shown a major paradigm shift from the punitive disciplinary measures of the past towards a rather preventive and more positive approach. It became inevitable that learner discipline should be correctional and educational – especially after the abolishment of corporal punishment in South African schools. An increase attention has started to concentrate on early identification and prevention of challenging behaviour and on strategies to resolve such behaviour at its earliest appearance. Some of the guiding determinants for this positive approach are vested in maintaining a safe, harmonious and orderly environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. The outcry is to promote and encourage discipline amongst learners. An approach that has been termed school-wide positive behaviour intervention and support seems to address most of the challenging behaviours. Through the use of document analysis, observation and group interviews school-wide positive behaviour intervention and support was embraced. The findings further revealed that through proper planning, implementation strategies, and in-service training positive behaviour approach can be implemented in schools as framework for school discipline in primary schools. School-wide positive behaviour intervention and support will contribute successfully in managing and modifying challenging behaviour, fostering discipline in schools, and to educate learners in the habit of accountability and responsibility for their actions without using punishment following specified rules. Doing so some of the critical and developmental outcomes of education in South Africa will be realized. Although research in this area is limited, there are encouraging signs that a coordinated adoption of validated practice could substantially reduce challenging behaviours and thereby enhance the social and emotional well-being of learners in today’s society

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