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'Can-do' kids can be a handful

Are schools ready for assertive children? That was one of the key questions that might occur to some reading the proceedings from the two very different conferences held in Edinburgh and Polmont on Saturday (page four).

Parents and learning support staff in their very different ways heard remarkably similar messages: pupil behaviour is not much worse than it used to be and those behaving badly are becoming increasingly manageable if HMI is to be believed - although, as Alan McLean pointed out, managing it is no longer enough. For a set of discussions on behaviour and discipline, normally the stuff of negativity, these were remarkably upbeat assertions.

Perhaps this accent on the positive was in anticipation of enterprise week.

For what schools were being urged to develop in their young charges, both as qualities in themselves and as factors to counteract challenging behaviour, were characteristics such as good esteem, self-belief, motivation, self-confidence, creativity, and so on - the call, in effect, to create a "can-do" generation.

Few would raise arguments to suggest that these are not desirable. Of course, to achieve such positive qualities for their pupils, schools and the adults in them will have to model the best of practices. As Kathleen Marshall pointed out, anti-bullying efforts will not succeed in a climate of intimidation.

And what if schools succeed in developing more "can-do" attitudes? Many adults have difficulty coping with confident, assertive adults. How will schools deal with such pupils?

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