The Big Question: will you explore your existing powers to manage behaviour?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world. Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: will you explore your existing powers to manage behaviour?

The newly published Steer report, Learning behaviour: lessons learned , recommends that teachers should explore their existing powers to deal with pupil behaviour.

These include searching pupils, screening pupils for weapons, use of force to control or restrain a pupil and the power to discipline pupils outside the school gate along with additional methods.

Over 80% of teachers were unaware of government guidance that outlines how this power can be exercised, according to a recent survey by the Teacher Support Network.

Steer also suggests the use of a ‘withdrawal’ room for pupils who need to be temporarily withdrawn from classes because of behaviour issues. While in the room, pupils should receive short-term teaching and support programmes.

Will you explore your existing powers to manage pupil behaviour? What do you think about the use of withdrawal rooms?

Here are some thoughts from the education community:

“I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to use my existing powers to manage pupil behaviour. All too often this results in an ‘inquisition’ from management who understandably feel they need to have all the information at hand when dealing with difficult parents who have little idea of what teachers’ ‘existing powers’ entail.

“At my school we have a system where students can be excluded from lessons by being given a ‘yellow slip’. These students report to reception where they are supposed to be seen by a senior teacher. Unfortunately, this rarely happens and excluded students merely sit out the rest of the lesson. I have often thought that a ‘withdrawal room’ would be more effective, but it has been pointed out to me that this would have to be staffed permanently. I guess, in the end it all comes down to financing and I do not think many schools would be prepared to pay for the staffing of such a unit.”
Iain Murdoch, secondary school teacher, from Hertfordshire


“Most children are happy, keen, biddable young learners, but a tiny majority makes life difficult for everyone. Special provision for these pupils, in classes alongside mainstream, not withdrawn into ‘units’, is the answer. Small classes, no more than ten, possibly mixed ability and age, with an experienced and enthusiastic teacher, supported by teaching assistants, technology and management will help all but the most recalcitrant to reach their potential. I believe this to be the answer because I am an intervention teacher in a National Challenge school. No, it won’t turn everyone round but given more time and earlier intervention more children can be helped. Don’t label, stigmatise or punish them - help them.”
Alan Watkins-Groves, secondary English intervention teacher


“In my current role, behaviour is a significant issue and major concern especially with some of our ASC learners. Incidents of assaults on staff are common and closely monitored. Self harm, damage and danger to others and the environment have to be constantly evaluated.

“Attendance at hospital by staff and staff absences reflect the nature of some of our learners. All staff members are specifically trained in appropriate behavioural approaches and these are constantly updated and refined. There are times when we need to apply a robust and firm response for the protection of all. Staffing ratios reflect the level of challenge to services and personnel.

“The SEN population is changing in demographic trends. The desire for a more inclusive educational experience can test the support and nurturing systems currently offered within our sphere of influence.”
Dr Len Parkyn, senior teacher, special education- tertiary phase

Please share your thoughts below