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STEPS Training

Steps is a therapeutically thinking and trauma-informed whole-school approach to positive behaviour management which has been rolled out across Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. The training includes theory, analysis, and planning tools to support whole-school and individual needs.


Head Teachers / School Leaders, School Teachers, Trusts


Inclusion and SEND, Mental Health and Wellbeing


Student/Family Support, Whole School

Why was the project needed?

Not only are internal, fixed term and permanent exclusion levels too high, they don’t impact positively on changing the antisocial behaviours. Removing a learner from a school and returning them to the same environment doesn’t teach them how to behave differently. Schools and settings needed and wanted better ways to support behaviour and wellbeing – they were asking for a focus on being able to analyse and understand the needs of young people and to be able to plan effectively for those needs.

What happened and what was the impact?

The Opportunity Area funded training for at least two staff members from each school including, where possible, a member of the SLT. This was a three-day ‘train the trainer’ programme which allowed the knowledge and understanding of the approach to become embedded within each school. There was additional funding to support the rollout of delivery back into the schools, as well as participation in annual refreshers.

What did and didn't work?

The schools who wanted to be involved engaged really well as they could see the positive changes available to them. Steps was therefore rolled out well within their setting, despite any external complications such as COVID-19.

COVID-19 restrictions did mean that the implementation from the training programmes was slower than initially hoped for, however.

How did you measure success?

95% of schools engaged with the training process, ensuring a consistent and coherent language regarding young people’s behaviour across the Opportunity Area.

Cascading of training throughout schools has gone very well and feedback showed that 85-100% of those receiving the training agreed that it had improved their knowledge of Steps, helped raise standards, promoted inclusion and made a positive contribute towards school/setting improvement.


Ingredients For Success

  • Clear communication and messaging about the approach.
  • Supportive LA towards approach.
  • Word of mouth from school to school – sharing of good practice.
  • High quality training, not diluted as it filters down.
  • Needs really effective admin support to manage bookings, lapsed training, licensing adherence, database management and co-ordination to support schools following training etc.
  • Celebration of successes.
  • Cost: £53,950 + £129,900 = £183,850 [inc. Early Years modules at £5,000]

Is the Project Complete or Ongoing

The project is on-going.

How is the Project Sustainable

To aid the embedding of the training, the Opportunity Area has offered further funding for refresher training. By working closely with the local authority, we have been able to create a network of Steps tutors and practitioners across the county. The approach in now firmly embedded in many schools’ policies and practice.

Planned Steps conference for summer 2022.

What are the Long Term Impacts

Training is now available across the county (not OA funded) which offers clear economies of scale, allowing many more schools/settings the chance to benefit from this approach.

We expect a continued reduction in exclusions of all types which, in turn, will help improve staff and pupil wellbeing and confidence. It will also improve later life chances for learners which would otherwise have been negatively impacted by multiple fixed-term or permanent exclusions.


We have received the following testimonials from some participated schools:

Primary School, Wisbech

‘Step On training has made staff more knowledgeable about the communication behind children’s behaviour which has changed the way that staff respond to children. This has strengthened relationships and reduced conflict. We have been able to support a child who was at risk of exclusion to stay in school through using the Steps approach.’

Primary School, East Cambridgeshire

‘Training in Steps has supported staff to have a deeper understanding of therapeutic approaches to managing behaviour and within a whole school approach. The tools within Steps such as anxiety mapping has supported staff to meet the needs of children more effectively.’

Secondary School, Cambridgeshire

‘We have rewritten our behaviour policy to reflect the therapeutic approach to behaviour, and the understanding of behaviour underpins the school’s commitment to authentic care. Below are our fixed-term exclusion figures since implementing the Steps approach:

  • 2017/2018: 85
  • 2018/2019: 27
  • 2019/2020: 15

We continue to develop our behaviour policy and approach to understanding behaviour, with the majority of the work now being able to focus on preventative and early intervention, rather than fire-fighting.’

Special School, Cambridgeshire

‘The introduction of Steps at our school has had a significant impact upon the number of incidents of physical intervention at school. Prior to introducing Steps the average number of restraints per week was 8 and now it has reduced to 0.3. Along with the Steps approach we have introduced some more therapeutic approaches to behaviour like using PACE language and restorative approaches to behaviour. We have two trained ELSA practitioners who support students in classes and individually with students. All of these combined efforts has meant a more pupil centred approach at our school.’

Special School, Cambridgeshire

‘Steps has really transformed our school. We are looking at difficult and dangerous behaviour through more empathetic eyes and incidents of these behaviours have reduced as a result. Staff are able to use the Steps tools to analyse patterns and causes of behaviours and our reactions are more consistent, fairer and reduce rather than create flash-points.

I would recommend Steps to any school – we are a Special school, but Steps would work equally as well in a mainstream Primary or Secondary setting, AP or PRU.’

‘Training in Steps has supported staff to have a deeper understanding of therapeutic approaches to managing behaviour and within a whole school approach. The tools within Steps such as anxiety mapping has supported staff to meet the needs of children more effectively.’

Area Most Impacted

Inclusion SEND

Next steps to do something similar yourself

These are a list of Big Idea resources that you can use to implement in your setting:

Read the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Behaviour here

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