Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA)

Behaviour analysis focuses on the principles that explain how learning takes place. Positive reinforcement is one such principle. When a behaviour (or action) is followed by some sort of perceived reward, the behaviour (action) is more likely to be repeated.

Teachers and support staff are skilled in the common teaching strategy which includes this ‘stimulus – response – reward’ – type of approach. It is known that people are more likely to repeat actions if rewarded for them and less likely to repeat actions if the reward is omitted or what follows is not perceived as rewarding. We use this principle throughout the school day in order to help our students not only to conform and develop socially appropriate behaviour, but also to help them develop good work and study skills. Strong (and often personalised) motivators ensure that each pupil learns good work behaviour e.g. to sit on a chair for directed activities, to move from one area to another and to complete tasks. However, we always ensure that these skills are taught in functional, meaningful and logical contexts. Hence, we would not teach the skill of responding to a direction to e.g. ‘sit down’ unless this is in a context when sitting down is important. We also try to ensure that the rewards are inherent in the task or activity rather than randomly selected e.g. given a sweet or a tickle.

We use the same principles when dealing with challenging behaviour issues. We analyse behaviours to identify triggers and then try to eradicate, or alter, the behaviour by changing the reward. The focus is always on what we want the child to do – not on what we do not want them to do. Therefore, as far as it is possible, we are proactive and our work on understanding consequences focuses on the consequence of being compliant rather on the consequence of the undesirable behaviour. Consequences, and how we explain this to our pupils are always commensurate with their level of understanding. We usually use visual support to reinforce the message. An example of explaining consequences: ‘first number work – then special hobby box’ and not: ’if you don’t finish your work you will miss play time’.

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Uffculme School is closed to students and staff on Monday 11th December due to adverse weather conditions