The Kindness Principle: Making Relational Behaviour Management Work in Schools


Dave Whitaker is an Independent Thinking Associate and the Director of Learning for the Wellspring Academy Trust. He has former experience as executive principal of social, emotional and mental health needs special schools and alternative provision academies. He is a regular speaker at conferences and an active campaigner for educational change.

Chapters include:

  • Unconditional positive regard
  • Behaviour policy: Why bother?
  • Rewards, sanctions and praise
  • Intimacy, warmth, banter and trust (and a bit about the brain)
  • Exclusions: How do we ever justify giving up on a child?

The author has an accessible writing style and his beliefs are clearly explained, supported by examples from practice and linked to ‘Try this’ activities to audit the readers’ own settings.

He explains that many schools’ behaviour policies assume that misbehaviour is a choice, and that this system focuses more on punishing the behaviour rather than  understanding it, and the underlying needs that might be causing it. 

He advocates for schools providing an emotional safe space for children, that accepts them for what they are and uses strategies to build more empathetic systems.

This is an excellent book that champions the central role of building relationships and creating a culture of trust where all staff and learners are valued and understood and where kindness and acceptance matter. Whitaker makes a very strong case for building school communities where success and kindness are equally valued.

Author: D. Whitaker
Publisher: Independent Thinking Press
ISBN: 978-1-7813538-5-1
Price: £16.99

Mary Mountstephen
Author: Mary Mountstephen

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