'5 ways staff can positively influence school culture' by school leader Hannah Rigg


Hannah Rigg - Horizons Bexley, The Difference

Well-informed and confident staff make for a positive culture at school. It’s key that schools recruit staff in line with their culture, and that teacher inductions include culture as a key aspect of settling into school life.

All staff should feel certain of ‘how we do things here’, and be able to model that to pupils.

Here are 5 ways confident, positive teachers can help influence the culture in their schools.


1. Model Behaviour

Every member of staff is a role model to the pupils in your school. The more pupils encounter the staff around them being polite and respectful to one another, the more they will be confident to be polite and respectful themselves.


2. Know your pupils’ names

It makes such a difference when pupils are referred to by their first names, and when staff make the effort to pronounce their names correctly. It makes them feel like they matter, and boosts their self esteem. Feeling known and respected is a preventative factor as it adds to a feeling of belonging.


3. Embrace difference

No two life experiences are the same. Staff should be mindful of their own lived experiences and how their lenses differ from the pupils we work with and remain curious and reflective of their own blind spots. Encouraging pupils to be curious and embrace differences between themselves and their peers helps to cultivate a tolerant, empathetic and open environment at school.


4. Identify common interests

Common interests are the social glue that hold together pupils and staff. This can work in 2 ways. Firstly, realising that their teacher likes the same TV show, sport, or video game as them can help pupils feel more connected to staff and to the school as a whole. Secondly, staff can actively connect pupils to their peers who they know have shared interests, in doing so pupils create new friendships and have someone to talk to about things that really matter to them.


5. All behaviour is communication

Instead of dismissing negative behaviour, stop to think about it. What is the underlying reason for this behaviour? What is this pupil trying to communicate. For example, acting up could be due to a welfare or safeguarding concern out of school, it could be linked to a falling out among a friendship group. Take the time to see those signs and find out what’s going on.


No matter the approach to influencing a positive culture in school, staff need to feel supported and confident when it comes to tackling negative behaviour head-on. Improving school culture requires a consistent approach which can be developed and bolstered by responsive CPD and training.



Hannah Rigg is an associate Senior Leader and Personal Development lead at Horizons Academy Bexley and a leader with The Difference.


Contact us at Life Lessons to learn more about how we can support your staff to feel confident as active agents in a positive school culture.



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