Ask a teacher

My Year 9s interfere with my laptop, push books off tables and stab each other with pens. How should I deal with this irritating kind of disruption?

Anne, Dorset

A You don't have to put up with this. Lay down your expectations and the ground rules. Make sure you enforce the rules. Be firm, consistent and fair, but don't give in.

Enlist the help of senior management. Pick out the ringleaders and deal with them swiftly and sharply, the others will toe the line when they see that unacceptable behaviour has consequences.

Above all, show that you are the teacher and are in control.

Angie, Guernsey

A Be clear about what is acceptable and what happens when a boundary is over-stepped. My advice is don't "steam in" and "take no prisoners" - you have to admit that you have let standards slip, not the children - so don't make them pay for your errors.

Chris, Sutton

A Try displaying the rules that you want to see respected.

Then you could have a classroom discussion about the moral and legal issues around property rights.

Another, possibly high risk, strategy would be to ask them all to bring something in that they would not like tampered with, and spend a day respecting each other's property.

Rod, London

A When I have a "bad" class of any age I focus on getting the start of the lesson right.

A seating plan helps, and keep them outside until you are absolutely ready for them.

Have a task ready for when they come into the class, such as copying down a title, date and lengthy aim.

Chris, Ellesmere Port

A To stop the tampering with your laptop, you could try to introduce a "zone" around your desk that pupils are only allowed to enter by invitation.

Richard, Selsey


Should pupils be allowed to sit GCSEs as early as Year 9, and is it better to have a grade C aged 13 or a grade A aged 16? Why the rush?

My head told me that I have ultimate responsibility for what is planned, taught, marked and assessed by the teaching assistant who covers my PPA.

What do I do?

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