Skip to main content

The Behaviour Question

I have moved from a school where behaviour was not a problem to one where it can be very challenging. I have been advised to get support from senior managers. However, either they do not show up or they bargain with students instead of dealing with them more harshly. Deputy heads acknowledge that these classes are challenging, but they often threaten punishments without following them through.

What you said


Your message could have been written by me. In the end, I went off sick and explained to my head of department that what was happening was affecting my health. Now I have much more support. Find a sympathetic member of the senior leadership team and tell them honestly how you are feeling.


The senior managers are at fault - your pupils have learned that they will allow them to behave badly.

The expert view

Your message is a template for the sort of problems faced by teachers in too many schools. Be reassured that this is not your fault. You are not the problem.

The school has fundamentally let you down and this probably explains why it is seen as challenging. What that really means is that the leadership team is spineless. When a senior member of staff is called out to deal with a behaviour problem, it is easy for them to arrive as the mediator, the balm. It is easy because it is not useful. The kids need to know that when the big guns arrive then everyone should hide under the tables. No wonder you feel undermined. You are.

You need to manage upwards, which takes patience. If a senior staff member does not show, call them out on it - politely. What does the behaviour policy say? If you follow it to the letter, point this out and ask them what happened and what they will do next. If this does not work, then go up a level. There must be someone in the school who cares and is professional.

If there is not, abandon ship and, to stretch the metaphor further, find a gang of hearties who sing the same song as you. Good luck, shipmate.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher.

Post your questions at

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you