The simpler the better

Routines are essential because they provide expectations. This year we introduced some basic classroom entrance and exit routines. Although behavior is typically good at our school, we wanted all students to receive a consistent and predictable experience for the starting and ending of lessons. It was particularly important for new year 7 students who were not used to transitioning from one lesson to the next.


Instead of simply rolling out the entrance and exit routines and expecting everyone to fall into lock step, the consultation process started about a term in advance with key stakeholders (Heads of Year and Heads of Faculty). Not only did this generate essential buy-in, it also gave each Middle Leader the opportunity to have consultation with their teams and gather useful feedback (namely from the teachers who would be implementing them). This proved invaluable in covering potential blind spots.


Our routines are simple and effective. We regularly revisit them with pupils and teachers (at least once a term). Leaders observe to see how they are working on the ground. Those checks are not a stick to beat people with but a litmus test to see whether policy translates to everyday practice. For example, a quick observation of the routines in the Humanities department revealed that it was nigh on impossible to have two classes lined up simultaneously in that eye of a needle like corridor with its wafer thin passage.


Predictability breeds safety

A strong argument for entrance and exit routines is that they are particularly important for neurodivergent pupils. Knowing that you’re going to experience a calm, warm, orderly and controlled start to each lesson must be particularly reassuring for groups of pupils with varying needs, whether autism, anxiety or ADHD.


Guideposts, not straitjackets

The best way to apply routines is a bit like teaching a scheme of work. It makes more sense to follow it ‘in the spirit of’, rather than ‘to the letter’. The aim isn’t to stifle teacher autonomy and individuality. There’s no set way in which a ‘do now’ activity should be completed. I’ve seen some schools insist on 5 retrieval practice questions at the start of each lesson. It’s clear that this is well-meaning, but it’s just far too prescriptive an approach for the complexities of teaching. Allow teachers the freedom to engage the students in a way they know best.


Although each school is free to construct their own routines, I’ve included ours below. They can serve as a starting point for any school wishing to adopt a set of routines.

Entrance routine
  1.  Students lined up outside
  2. Each student greeted at the door
  3. Do now/connect activity started (usually some for of retrieval practice)

Exit routine

  1. Equipment cleared away (classrooms reset)
  2. Students stood behind desks
  3. Each row dismissed in turn