Combining Seating Plans with Behaviour Management

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What happens when you combine seating plans with behaviour management?

I am a big believer in the impact of seating plans in the classroom, even after 20 years of teaching. In our school, we encourage teachers to carefully think about how students interact with each other, and how they can have an immediate impact on pupil behaviour and the general learning atmosphere. For example, mixing up the classroom layout from forward-facing rows to working in groups, or vice versa; gender balance and pupil premium consideration and so forth.

It becomes fairly obvious – even in a landscape without lesson gradings – which teachers are setting high expectations over time and embedding routines in their classrooms to enable students to make progress. There is nothing worse when students have a ‘free-for-all’ arrangement. Particularly in key stages two and three (7-14 years old).


I was pleased to see my beliefs ring true in research from the US which found that by using seating plans there is a significant increase in learning outcomes for lower ability students. From the data collected and published, students were placed in three different seating arrangements: self-chosen seats, randomly assigned seats, and teacher assigned seats.

The results showed that teacher chosen seating arrangements yielded better performances across the entire population.

Assessment scores by CRT Score for Seating Chart Assignments, (N=88).


So, why does such a simple classroom management technique have such a profound impact on learning?

From my own experience the answer is simple. By using a classroom seating plan and telling students where they sit, you are immediately establishing (and asserting) your authority on the class. If you are aware of students’ abilities and you should be, students’ needs then require organising, especially peer-to-peer learning or ability group work. It becomes easier if seating plans are part of your lesson planning.

One chap I know, who firmly believes that seating plans make an impact in the classroom, is Duncan Wilson. A classroom teacher for 16 year, he recently took the brave step to leave teaching to focus on his seating plan and behaviour management software – . What Wilson has come up with is impressive; not only do the seating plans help with teaching and learning, displaying key information about the students, but the software also acts as a behaviour management tool (and is SIMS write-back supported).



The seating plans themselves look like this and you can click on a button which automatically colour highlight pupils who are below, on or above target:


Click to expand.

For behaviour management, within the software you can ‘click on a student’ and you can access your school behaviour policy; just point to ‘reward a student’, and this then writes back to SIMS. I know there are some, but not every piece of software can do this to help reduce teacher workload and duplication.

Click to expand.

But there is more! The really clever thing about what the software, is that because it is built around seating plans, it knows who each student is sitting next to with in every lesson. When behaviour points are awarded, you can actually identify how pupils are influencing each other! All a teacher needs to do then is “optimise” and the software creates a seating plan that splits apart pupils who have a negative influence on each other.

Click to expand.


Another great feature is the Twitter style activity feed which shows school wide behaviour in real-time – perfect for staff on call – and finally, for data conscious middle and senior teachers, there is a whole host of reporting available across the school, to individual student reports. You can even configure the system to send email alerts when specific behaviour events occur.

All in all I think Duncan has done a superb job in developing his software. It is really easy for teachers to use, but at the same time it is a powerful tool for schools. The fact that schools are using this software all around the world, is testament to this. is well worth a look; just get in touch with Duncan by clicking here.


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2 thoughts on “Combining Seating Plans with Behaviour Management

  1. It’s probably just me but I dislike the term “Behavior Management” as a focus in teaching and learning. I have the same problem with the term “Discipline Policy” or “Complaints Policy”. I was once told “You get what you aim at” and this is the underlying concern I have.

    As a teacher I want to manage learning, a consequence of which is the type of behaviour that supports it. In my view there is no one “ideal” or “appropriate” behaviour in learning. I accept that at times students need to demonstrate that they are listening – but is this when they sit quietly, when they doodle or sit upright in a chair arms folded facing the front?

    I know seating arrangements can significantly influence the way students behave in a lesson and that I can demonstrate my authority by commanding where they sit or work. I can also work to build relationships and to develop in learners their self-regulation. This is an old article but I think it is still relevant, it is from Barbara Prashnig, “10 False Beliefs about learning”

    Whilst I support building any form of “database” that helps me manage learning my caveat is to be careful, education loves labels and the easier they are to apply the more we love them.

    1. I see the Barbara Prashnig article went down well! I am a great fan of her work because it is a way of starting a discussion about learning even if learning styles have become discredited there is still a lot of common sense involved. See “The Power of Diversity” to find out more about Barbara’s work. You may also find my work on “Learnng Intelligence” of interest.

      The original LQ article can be found at:

      An article that looks at LQ and the learner including behaviour is at:

      If any teachers want to see what their teaching style is as described by Barbara, or the way they favor to work shall we say, then I can provide up to 5 free of the Teaching Style Analysis via an on line assessments developed by Barbara for free (normally about £11) See this link for details of the assessment:

      I will provide an access code to the first 5 e-mail requests I receive. E-mail me at if you are interested and put “TSA” in the subject.


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