There was loud applause when Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, called on school staff to develop "a new three Rs - rules, responsibility and respect".
Given the eagerness of the 900 teachers at the conference to crack down on misbehaving pupils, it seemed odd that none of them spotted the two 15-year-old girls outside the conference centre who spent part of the afternoon scrawling graffiti on its walls and lamp-posts in black felt-tip ink.
One of the teenagers, who wore a black hoodie, was busy writing "Tracey is a whore" when approached by a TES reporter.
What did she make of giving teachers the power to discipline students outside of school? Unsurprisingly, she was opposed.
"I don't think they should do that. They suffer enough doing that in school," she said.
And what about another conference topic, the victimisation of pupils? Was she worried about Tracey's feelings?
"Er, no - that's Tracey there," she explained, pointing to her friend, who turned bright red.