A behaviour support plan is a written plan that is designed to target the underlying reason for behaviour, replace the inappropriate behaviour with an appropriate behaviour that serves the same function, and reduce or eliminate the challenging behaviour (Caring and Safe Schools in Ontario, 2010). In school boards, behaviour support plans are sometimes referred to as behaviour management plans.

A behaviour support plan can be an intrinsic part of creating positive behaviour supports for students demonstrating risk of injury behaviour to self or others.

Behaviour support plans should be developed to manage challenging behaviours. An effective support plan will:

  • be based on a functional assessment and analysis of the student’s behaviour
  • focus on the individual student
  • include methods for teaching alternatives to the challenging behaviour
  • include strategies for making changes to the environmental and instructional circumstances found to be most associated with the challenging behaviour

Effective behaviour management is an ongoing process with definable steps. It begins with a functional behaviour assessment (FBA), which is a systematic process designed to look beyond the student’s behaviour and focus on identifying its function or purpose. Based on the FBA, a behavioural support plan is developed to identify alternative behaviours for the student, and strategies for reducing or replacing ineffective behaviours. A student behaviour plan should include:

  • consideration for the learning environment
  • identified alternative behaviours
  • strategies and supports to help student learn alternative behaviors
  • positive reinforcement methods
  • students’ strengths, interest and lived experiences
  • promoting alternative behaviours independently and across various settings
  • clearly identified tasks and responsibilities

Finally, ongoing monitoring is used to review progress and identify any changes that need to be made. It is important to remember that behaviour is established and develops over time and that managing and changing behaviour is a process that takes time. If appropriate, the behaviour support plan and the student safety plan should be reviewed following violent incidents to seek improvements in safety for both the student and workers.

The creation of behaviour support plans and their use as a part of a health and safety culture in Ontario schools reinforces positive behaviour supports and the concept of a caring and safe school, positive school climate and a whole school approach.