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Boxing proves a clever tactic

A school in Bradford has come up with a novel way to instruct pupils to manage their anger. It teaches them to box.

Dixons city technology college is launching lunchtime boxing classes where pupils can work off their aggression between lessons.

The scheme, which is backed by the school's special needs department, follows the success of an after-school club which persuaded the parent-teachers' association to part with pound;1,000 for equipment.

Boxing has proved so popular that the club, which started two years ago with five or six pupils, now has a waiting list of 60 pupils.

Pupils with special needs such as emotional and behavioural difficulties and autism will get priority when places are allocated.

Carl Lander, science teacher who helped set up the club, said: "We tend to get the more difficult characters and we have found it calms them down. We had the SEN department saying some of these pupils really need to join.

They have come to me and said what an amazing difference we have made."

Jackie Turner, assistant headteacher with responsibility for inclusion, said: "The boxing club has been one of our most successful extra-curricular activities in terms of inclusion.

"It has encouraged many students, particularly those with special needs to become more confident, more disciplined and more socially adept."

Mr Lander stressed that school boxing is very different from the professional sport. Pupils are not allowed to hit each other but are taught boxing skills which they can then take to a club if they want to pursue the sport further.

He said: "Often people who shout the loudest are those who have little understanding of the sport. In the list of injuries in sports, regularly published, boxing is not even in the top 100 - well behind contact sports like rugby and football."

He described how one boy with Asperger's syndrome who had problems with co-ordination learned to skip at boxing club and achieved his first level certificate. "It was the first award he had ever won," Mr Lander said.

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