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Disaffected sixth-formers

Liz Henning is associate adviser for Manchester local education authority.

A former head of maths in Rochdale, she is a troubleshooter, giving support in behaviour management and maths teaching strategies to teachers in the city

"Getting As at GCSE doesn't necessarily mean a child has good self-esteem, especially if he or she is in a top stream or living life through parental aspirations. All such children have to compare themselves with are others in their stream; they don't have the full ability picture that I do. So I have to give a lot of support.

"I'm a maths teacher and the step up to A-level is considerable, even for a child with an A. I tell students they are good; I tell them to trust me, that I know what I'm talking about.

"Students who are dispirited will sometimes choose bad behaviour to camouflage their difficulties. They need to know that you are on to them, that you will follow them up, but there needs to be flexibility in handling the rules. Negotiating when to contact parents is a good move. Giving emotional support and strategies for good time management is also important. You have to give them breathing space but remain firm. They will respect you for that."

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