Ask Tom

Teacher, TES Connect blogger and behaviour expert Tom Bennett puts on his agony uncle hat and answers your education questions

Behaviour at our school improved when we introduced a new policy: excluded students would stay at home in the morning and come in between 2pm and 6pm. They hated it. But our headteacher has just pulled the plug, opting for day exclusions instead. The students are delighted and behaviour has got worse. The headteacher won't explain her reasons. What we can do?

A teacher, via email to

Apart from mutiny? Because that is the cold truth of it: the headteacher makes the calls. That said, there are strategies you can employ. You say that the headteacher won't explain but there must be a reason and someone must be party to it. Ask senior leaders to raise it in meetings and ask your line manager to investigate. If that doesn't work, you can always request that your teacher-governor brings up the issue at a meeting of the whole body. Give the headteacher advance warning so that she has time to deal with the matter before it becomes a cause for embarrassment in front of her notional employers.

I am currently on a school-based teacher training course but the support has been very poor. I applied for a job here next year regardless and was turned down, which is fair enough. I now have a job elsewhere. But my mentor says I need to write a letter to the school saying that I won't be back in September and also says I have to apologise to the headteacher for not telling him sooner. Is there any reason I should agree to this?

A teacher, via email to

I might be missing something here: they didn't offer you a job but you have to tell them you won't be back? Were they expecting you to volunteer there pro bono? This sounds very odd. Is your job offer from the next school airtight? Or is it pending references? If the latter is the case, your training school has you in a bind. And if the paperwork for your certification isn't complete yet, they still hold your heart in their claws. If either of these apply then I advise you to be gracious, bite your tongue and then leave. But otherwise tell them to stick their suggestions where even the inspectors will never find them.

When I turn away from some students in my class (which is a science lab, so it's impossible not to), they make a game of shouting random or rude things. They know I can't figure out who is doing it, which makes it all the more humiliating. What should I do?

A teacher, via TES Connect's behaviour forum

If you can't be bothered to do something as simple as growing an eye in the back of your head, then the solution is simple: never turn your back. Yes, that will mean canning the practicals. It will mean teacher-led lectures with book work and heads down. And you can explain to the class that until everyone can act with civility, this is how you have to teach.

Tom teaches full-time at Raine's Foundation School in London.

Do you agree with his advice? To have your say or ask a question, visit www.tesconnect.comasktom or email

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