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The problem

Today a Year 3 boy ran around the classroom threatening other pupils and climbing onto tables. I took my class into the hall for their own safety, but my headteacher told me this was unacceptable. What should I have done?

What you said

"You should not have to teach this child. Do all that the school suggests and then simply refuse to have the child."


"Keep sending for the behaviour teamheadteacheranyone who will come. Do not get into the habit of putting up with atrocious behaviour."


"If a pupil is violent then the workplace has become unsafe. No employer can insist that you teach a violent pupil or discipline you for not teaching a violent pupil."



Your school should have a behaviour policy that sets out how such situations should be handled. Systems vary from school to school about how support for difficult situations can be sought. What is important is that the whole school community knows the policy for dealing with such situations and how to seek advice or assistance when necessary.

The behaviour policy should also give advice on restraint of pupils. Teachers have the right to restrain pupils who are seriously disrupting a lesson or at risk of causing injury or damage. This is often misunderstood, so it can be helpful to set out examples of the action that can justifiably be taken within the law. Teachers need training if restraint is to be used.

The school management has a duty to protect your health and safety and Government guidance states that behaviour policies should take account of staff health and welfare issues. Whenever you feel that your health is affected or put at risk at work, you must report your concerns and, if necessary, seek the assistance of your union representative. No one should work in an unsafe environment.

A plan for dealing with difficult situations will be most effective when it is part of a clear and well-understood school behaviour policy. This should have been the subject of consultation and, once finalised, should be reinforced consistently. There should be regular reviews of the policy and the guidelines for its implementation, with training available on the application of behaviour management strategies.

Talk to colleagues about the situation and how the school's approach to behaviour management might be improved.

Christine Blower is general secretary of teaching union the NUT. For more behaviour advice, go to



- Consider restraint if pupils are at risk of causing injury or damage.

- Report your concerns if you feel your health or safety is in jeopardy.

- Talk to your union representative about the school's approach to behaviour management.


- Be afraid to ask for help in dealing with a difficult pupil.

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