Measuring the working atmosphere in the classroom: The Haydn Scale

Submitting Institution

University of East Anglia

Unit of Assessment


Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Education: Curriculum and Pedagogy, Specialist Studies In Education

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Summary of the impact

The Haydn Scale is an instrument for considering the working atmosphere in classrooms and is used for teacher development by schools and Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers within and beyond the UK. Within the UK, it is the most widely used instrument for reflecting on and helping to understand deficits in classroom climate, and over the REF period, there is evidence to demonstrate that the scale is used worldwide. Large numbers of teacher educators, heads, teachers and student teachers have found it to be a useful resource in developing understanding of the factors influencing classroom climate and pupil behaviour.

Underpinning research

The research was carried out by Professor Terry Haydn at the University of East Anglia (UEA), 1996-present. The scale was based on extensive classroom observation in UK schools. Its aim was to encourage student teachers, teachers and schools to reflect on the influence of classroom climate on teaching and learning, and the extent to which there is a `right to learn' for pupils, free from disruption. The scale differs from other classroom climate instruments in its attempt to provide a more nuanced calibration of the extent to which the teacher is in control of the classroom, and able to create and sustain a working atmosphere that optimises pupil learning. It has since been used in continuing professional development of teachers and also encourages users to consider the extent to which teachers are in relaxed and assured control of their classrooms and able to enjoy their job.

The aim of the scale is to help those with an interest in classroom climate to conceptualise the working atmosphere in the classroom as a continuum, between one ideally conducive to learning (Level 10), to one where pupil attainment and entitlement to learn are severely constrained by the poor behaviour of some pupils (Level 1). The level descriptors were designed to evince a chord of recognition in anyone who has had experience of working in classrooms, and also, to be transparent to other `stakeholders' in education, such as parents, governors, policymakers, and pupils themselves. A pilot study, using the scale, was undertaken in 2001-2 (Reference 1), with the main body of research being conducted between 2006-7, in which Haydn interviewed 118 UK teachers (Reference 2). The interviewees (ranging from head teachers to newly qualified teachers) were given the scale to consider and asked a range of questions focusing on what factors were thought to influence the quality of the working atmosphere in classrooms. The research provided the basis for the book Managing Pupil Behaviour (Reference 2), and was presented at the 2009 American Educational Research Association Conference in San Diego (Reference 3).

A further phase of research was undertaken between 2009-11 (Reference 5). The aim was to conduct an exploratory enquiry into the scale and prevalence of deficits in classroom climate in UK schools. Two successive cohorts of PGCE students (246 students) were asked about the levels on the scale that they had encountered as pupils between years 7 and 11, and in any postgraduate experiences of working or observing in schools. The outcomes suggested that deficits in classroom climate may be more serious and widespread than suggested by recent Ofsted and Steer Reports on behaviour in schools (2009). The impact of the scale is enhanced by its simplicity and ease of use to get those involved with education to reflect on and respond to deficits in classroom climate. The wording of the levels on the scale is meaningful to those working in classrooms. Discussions and correspondence with teachers and teacher educators show that they have found the scale useful, and are using it in their institutions.

References to the research


1. Haydn, T. (2002) The working atmosphere in the classroom and the right to learn: problems of control and motivation in British schools, Education Today. 52 (2): 3-10.

2. Haydn, T. (2007) Managing pupil behaviour: key issues in teaching and learning, London, Routledge.


3. Haydn, T. (2009) "The working atmosphere in the classroom and the right to learn: a view from the UK", paper presented at the American Educational Research Association Conference, 2009.

4. Haydn, T. (2009) Initial teacher education and the management of pupil behaviour: what experiences, resources and interventions do students find helpful?, In A. Jackson (Ed.) Innovations and development in initial teacher education: a selection of papers presented at the 4th ESCalate ITE Conference, University of Cumbria, Carlisle, 2008: 153-9.

5. Haydn, T. (2012) Managing pupil behaviour: working to improve classroom climate, London, Routledge. (This is a second edition of the 2007 book and which incorporates the second phase of research, which took place between 2009 and 2011).

The scale is at

Evidence of the quality of the research: The research was accepted for presentation at the highly competitive American Educational Research Conference (AERA) in San Diego, 2009 (Reference 3). The quality of the research (and the explanation of its impact) is in part a function of the design and usefulness of the main instrument on which the research was based. There is strong evidence to demonstrate that the scale is effective in getting all those with an interest in classroom climate (policymakers, ITE tutors, head teachers, Continuous Professional Development co-ordinators, teachers and student teachers) to reflect on the factors which influence the working atmosphere in the classroom.

An early indication (pre the current REF cycle) of the quality and utility of the scale as an instrument can be found in comments on the scale from academics involved in teacher education. Professor Richard Aldrich of the Institute of Education (University of London) wrote of the scale that:`The real potential of the Haydn Scale is that its simplicity and clarity make it accessible to all... It might be addressed not only to teachers, but to pupils, parents and governors as well. What education needs at present is a basic, non-controversial pedagogical principle around which a partnership of all those who have immediate responsibility for the processes and outcomes of teaching and learning can be formed. The Haydn Scale and its promise of an improvement in the quality of education as a result of an improvement in the quality of the working atmosphere in classrooms provide just such a principle' (letter to The Times, copied to the author of the scale).

The research was presented at the (peer reviewed) British Educational Research Association (BERA) Conference, Manchester, 2012. The research has also been presented at the (peer reviewed) Teacher Education Policy in Europe Conference, University of Helsinki, 16-18 May 2013, and as an invited address to the Subjects and Subjectivities Conference, University of Edgehill, 9 July 2013. On the basis of the research, Haydn was co-opted to work on the Behaviour for Learning Project (£15,000, 2007-2009, Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA), Eastern Regional Co-ordinator and member of steering group for Behaviour for Learning Initial Teacher Education Professional Resource Network IPRN).

Details of the impact

The scale is extensively used in schools and ITE in the UK and worldwide because it has been found to be helpful in promoting reflection on classroom climate and developing understanding of the factors which influence the working atmosphere in classrooms. The research has also had an impact on public and policy debates about the extent to which behaviour is a problem in UK schools (Daily Mail, 12/5/09, TES, 18/6/10, Independent, 6/9/12).

Although there were earlier indications of the impact and use of the scale, it was not until the publication of the 2007 book (research reference 2) detailing the research and explaining how the scale might be used that the impact on practice in schools and in ITE became more substantial. The book and media reporting of the AERA paper in 2009 brought the scale to the attention of a broader public, professional and policy audience. The scale was reproduced in the Times Educational Supplement (TES), The Guardian and the Telegraph. On three occasions the TES has given full-page coverage to the scale. The Telegraph printed a letter from a prospective teacher saying that they had been advised that she should read `The Haydn Scale' before going into teaching. The research was featured in the Daily Mail (12 May 2009), Sunday Telegraph (8 August 2009), and Independent (6 September 2012). Haydn was also invited to write a two-page feature on behaviour in UK schools, featuring use of the scale, for the TES (18 June 2010). The impact of the research can be gauged in part by the fact that it is highly unusual for an educational assessment instrument to be given such extensive coverage in the national press.

Throughout this period, the scale was disseminated through invited lectures at ITE institutions, the Behaviour for Learning and Higher Education Academy websites, and Teachers TV (2009), as well as Haydn's own website. Because of interest in the scale, the author was appointed to be part of the Behaviour for Learning project, a major teacher education online professional resource network funded by the Training and Development Agency. As well as being part of the working group responsible for developing the network, he was Eastern Regional Co-ordinator (2007-10), running seminars for head teachers and senior managers on behaviour. Throughout this period, Haydn has delivered an annual keynote lecture to PGCE students at the Institute of Education, University of London, as well as at UEA, and more recently, Oxford University. This has been recorded by Teachers TV (

Over 15,000 UK teachers have been directly inducted into use of the scale in invited lectures, in addition to those who have used the scale as a result of encountering it online, on Teachers TV and in the book `Managing pupil behaviour' (research references 2 and 5). The book is on the reading list of most Higher Education-led secondary ITE courses and the scale is widely discussed on teacher blogs and websites (see, for example,`x Impact has also been assisted by the availability of the scale and supporting information on a number of education websites (see, for example,,,,,,,,,, (e.g. corroborating sources 1-4.)

There is evidence to demonstrate that the scale is used, and is thought to be useful, in Scotland and Northern Ireland and beyond the UK (North America, Europe, Australasia). Over a third of the sales of the book are to the `US and Rest of the World' (email from publisher 20/12/12). The research outputs and web/media coverage of the scale have raised the profile of the role of classroom climate in educational outcomes, and challenged the recent very positive portrayal of behaviour in schools presented by Ofsted and the Steer Report on behaviour in schools (see: TES, 1 May 2009; Haydn, 2012). The research has also drawn attention to equal opportunities issues surrounding the tensions between pupil inclusion, and situations where some pupils may be spoiling the learning of others. (e.g. corroborating sources 5-11.)

The research has had an impact on policy as well as practice. The author has been invited to talk to the policy and research committee of the General Teaching Council about the scale (8/6/10) and to deliver a talk on the scale for the University Council for Teacher Education (UCET, 10/3/11). The research has also been identified by the Department for Education (DfE) and the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) as a recommended resource for improving the training of teachers in the field of pupil behaviour

The significance of the research is that the scale has become the most widely used instrument for considering classroom climate from a teacher perspective. The reach of the research is global with the scale being used in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australasia (e.g. corroborating sources 8-11).

Sources to corroborate the impact

a) Impact on the training of teachers

  1. Discipline Lead for Education, Higher Education Academy: e-mail reporting that in a survey of teacher educators across eight HEA workshops, the scale had been identified and recommended as a useful resource to go on the HEA website in the section to support ITE students (email, 5/9/12). (See also, DfE/NCTL endorsement cited in Section 4).
  2. Programme leader Secondary PGCE, Institute of Education, University of London, where Haydn receives consistently high satisfaction ratings from the 650 or so secondary PGCE student teachers to whom he is invited to deliver an annual keynote lecture involving use of the scale: `It was on the strength of Terry's contribution to us that I suggested he deliver an input into the UCET Secondary Committee's discussion in this subject. I believe that was well received by fellow ITE programme leaders and to that end his work has had a wide reach.... there were probably 30 HEIs represented' (email, 1/12/11).
  3. PGCE Course Leader, University of Oxford: Providing feedback on an invited talk about the use of the scale to secondary PGCE students at the university in October 2012; reported that all 83 of the students who had provided feedback on the lecture regarded it as `valuable' or `very valuable' (letter, 15/11/12).
  4. Senior Lecturer in Education, University of Ulster: `In 1996 I attended the SCHTE Conference at the University of Oxford. There I heard Terry Haydn speak on the theme of the relationship between teaching methods and working atmospheres in the history classroom... I was particularly impressed by Haydn's articulation of a ten-level scale on working atmosphere in the classroom. In subsequent years, in my own working context as a PGCE tutor with responsibility for preparing teachers for managing classrooms effectively, I have found Haydn's levels a very useful starting point for students to confront the realities of what constitutes unacceptable/ tolerable/effective conditions for learning in the classroom' (letter, 19/6/12).

b) Impact in schools

  1. Head teacher, Acle High School, Norfolk: `I used the Haydn Scale when I first became aware of it about 8 years ago, for staff training on classroom management. Since then Terry Haydn has been to the school and talked to staff as part of the CPD programme on behaviour management. It [the scale] has been particularly useful for Newly Qualified Teachers as a means to reflect on their classroom experience and gain perspective: it helps to reassure them that not all their classes are out of control, and enables them to see patterns, for instance, at the end of the day or the end of the week' (telephone interview, 21/11/11).
  2. Head teacher, Neatherd School, Norfolk: `The Haydn Scale of classroom climate is useful in two ways, with individual teachers and with a whole-school approach: a) We have an on-call system and it has helped with the identification of difficulties and knowing how to target support and resources; b) I am currently doing professional development work, looking at the new Ofsted framework and criteria, particularly around the teaching and learning, and behaviour and safety strands. I have used the scale as a way in, to encourage staff to think about the classroom climate for an outstanding lesson, and to compare this with the Ofsted framework. It will enable us to create a whole-school picture of classroom climate - all staff are going to be asked to use the Haydn Scale to review their own lessons. Its details and descriptors are clear enough to make an accurate interpretation for the senior leadership team... it will provide useful evidence, alongside classroom observations, in areas such as rewards and sanctions' (telephone interview, 22/11/11).
  3. Examples of the ways in which teachers use the scale, and find it useful, can be found in Haydn (2012) Managing pupil behaviour: improving the classroom atmosphere, London, Routledge. The book contains teacher testimony about how they use the scale, and the ways in which they find it useful (see, for instance, pages 5-14).

c) Some examples of impact beyond the UK

  1. The scale is widely used in schools and ITE in New Zealand. The Editor of Principals' Digest describes the scale as `one of the most widely requested' and useful resources for school principals and lead teachers in New Zealand (email 15/11/13).
  2. Feedback on the use and utility of the scale at the Linnaeus University, Sweden (email 21/11/11).
  3. Research used and thought to be helpful at Diest and Leuven ITE course, Belgium (email, 18/2/13).
  4. Scale used as part of course wiki and described as `enormously helpful' in ITE course at the American University, Washington DC (email, 9/4/13).