Behaviour: Managing the last few days of term

Most teachers are in the final phase of their school year. The end is nigh. In schools across the country, demob fever has broken out. Pupils are wriggling more fiercely than normal for the liberty of the field and forest (or more likely, the Wii and Facebook). The danger is that we too might succumb to the infection. Most teachers are tired. The school year is a flat race for nine months. When you see the finishing line, the temptation is to slow down. But danger, family Robinson! Drop the pace and lose the race. Now is not the time to fumble the baton.

Don’t end the year with a week of games and DVDs

It is tempting, but this is not what the kids are here for, and not what teachers are paid for. I know it sounds lovely: ‘Oh, let’s give them something nice.’ I applaud the sentiment. By all means do something a bit outré and different. Give them a nice send off by which to remember school kindly. But it must be educational. If it isn’t, then we neglect the primary purpose of school and simply become child minders. That’s not what we signed up for.

Remember the real needs of the children, not the expressed preferences

Children need a safe place where they can learn about the world. As one child memorably said to me, “What’s the point of coming into school? All we do is sit around and watch half of a film, then watch another half of a film.” That’s one reason attendance plummets at the end of term. Some kids, who struggle with attending anyway, have their attitudes confirmed when we start to dilute the USP of their being there in the first place. Parents know this too, so extract kids to Ibiza in the Ryanair Olympics.

Support your colleagues

Some teachers will be running lessons right up to the bell, and I salute that. This is not an easy undertaking when kids roll into the room high on cupcakes and joy and then freak out because they have to get their books out again. The laziness of some infects and undermines the industry of others. That can’t be right. The last week needs to be broadly consistent for students, or they will get mixed messages about the value of school.

Please enjoy the last few days of term. By all means, take a risk in your lessons. Do something you haven’t tried before. Give the kids a laugh. But before you stick on Up for the sixth time that day, ask yourself whether you are doing it for the right reasons, or just because you want a snooze?

Good luck and have a great week.



Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behaviour and a teacher at Raines Foundation, an inner city state schoolin Tower Hamlets. He regularly supports teachers on TES through our behaviour forum and monthly newsletterson behaviour. Read more from Tom on our behaviour forum or on his blog or Twitter


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