Study of Authoritative School Climate policies to reduce absenteeism and exclusion

This study aims to explore the content of school behaviour policies and the effect that they have on attendance and exclusions.

About the study

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and the Youth Endowment Fund (YEF) have funded the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) to work collaboratively with a small team from University College London on a study evaluating how school behavioural management policies impact non-attendance and exclusion rates on a sample of Year 9 students.

Schools in the UK must have a behaviour policy in place to outline their approach to addressing and responding to student behaviour. There is currently limited research in the UK exploring what school behaviour policies look like, and their impact on student attendance and exclusions. 

The overall aim of the study is to explore whether there is evidence that school behaviour policies help reduce exclusions and improve attendance of secondary school students in England.

What is the study looking at?

We are currently in the scoping phase of the study. This phase of the study aims to identify a framework for distinguishing and classifying behaviour policy types, understand how such policies are implemented in practice and how the policies are experienced by students and staff. To achieve this, we are conducting a qualitative analysis of school behaviour policies, and interviews with staff and students. This will be followed by a school survey later in the year.

What does taking part involve?

Participating in the study will involve taking part in the following research activities throughout the 2023 Autumn term (from September 2023)

Interviews with school headteachers, behaviour leads and class teachers 

We will interview between 1-4 individuals in schools, including headteachers, behaviour leads and Year 7-9 class teachers. 

The aim of the interviews is to understand staff’s perceptions of the school’s behaviour policy, what influences school policies and how they are implemented. 

Group discussions with Year 9 students 

We will invite Year 9 students to take part in a group discussion. A DBS checked NatCen researcher will arrange to visit schools and conduct a group discussion with students. 

The aim of the discussions is to understand student’s perception of their school’s behaviour policy and how the policy is implemented in practice. 

Optional workshops with school staff

Schools will be invited to attend an optional workshop. The headteachers, behavioural lead(s) and some class teachers will be invited to take part in a Theory of Change workshop, organised and led by the NatCen team. 

The aim of the workshop is to discuss the reasoning behind school behavioural policies and how they are implemented in practice.

Why take part?

Your  involvement in the study is an opportunity to help us better understand what works in managing school attendance and exclusion and help shape future policy in this area.

A cash incentive of £150 will be awarded to schools who take part in the interviews. An additional £50 will be awared to those schools who take part in a group discussion. 

Headteachers, behavioural leads and class teachers at participating schools might also be invited to participate in a workshop in October 2023. An additional £100 will be awarded to schools who take part in the workshop. 

Participation is voluntary

Participation in the study is voluntary. You can choose to not take part in the activities, or withdraw your child, at any point without having to give a reason.
If you are a headteacher would like to withdraw your school from participating in research activities, please contact the study team at

Who are NatCen?

The National Centre for Social Research (NatCen) have been carrying out social research for over 50 years. We are a non-profit organisation, independent of all government departments and political parties. 

Click here to find out more.

Privacy notice

We take great care to protect the confidentiality of the information people give us. To find out more about how your personal information will be used in this study, please click here to see our privacy notice

Contact us

We are happy to answer any questions you have about the study which are not covered here. Please contact us at or by calling 0808 168 2790.