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‘Three Top Tips from Tom’ will be updated weekly with the best advice and tips on behaviour and classroom management.

Tom Bennett is the TES adviser on behaviour and a teacher at Raines Foundation, an inner city state school in Tower Hamlets. He regularly supports teachers on TES through our behaviour forum and monthly newsletters on behaviour.

Behaviour OUTSIDE of schools

Here’s a topic that confounds many teachers- what do you do if you see a pupil misbehaving outside of school? The worry of course is that we don’t have any authority over them. Then there’s the worry that they’ll just tell you to bog off, or laugh at you, or worse. BUt many, many of us have found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of seeing pupils- in uniform or out- acting in a way that you wouldn’t wish. So what can you do?

  1. This isn’t CSI Miami - You have no legal right to stop and search, and they have no legal obligation to follow your instructions. But we don’t need to have legal right. You might want to consider that you have a moral right, as a responsible adult, let alone a teacher, to get involved if they’re being yobbish in public. Besides, if they’re in school uniform, they are bringing the school into disrepute, so I would certainly say you have every right to at least attempt to intervene. After all, it’s what a lot of members of your community would expect.
  2. On the other hand, you don’t have to - You have no contractual obligation to interfere, unless your school has expressly and explicitly said so in your contract, in which case you would be very aware of it. In other words, you’re not the Feds; you have the right to walk away. And if it involves putting yourself in any kind of danger, I would advocate that you do so.
  3. Softly, softly, catchee…. - Don’t wade in like the SAS unless you’re prepared to be refused. Simply walk over, and in a clear calm voice direct them towards the shining path of truth and wisdom. If they mug you off in any way, don’t blow a gasket, just take a note of the situation and walk away. And then follow up- the superpower of every teacher; make calls home, inform a line manager or pastoral head, and you can then decide on a suitable response.


    This is always a delicate call, and you will need to make the judgement yourself. But if spoken to in a calm, reasonable way, many students will suddenly realise that they aren’t invisible, and that their actions have consequences.

 Good luck


Read more from Tom on our behaviour forum or on his blog or Twitter

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