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Looking ahead

"Teaching is like a battlefield," children's behaviour guru Sue Cowley insisted, adding (to my relief): "The enemy is not the kids, but anything that gets in the way of them learning."

The ability to keep order has to be acquired chiefly through experience and can be a problem for secondary teachers at the start of their careers.

The Behaviour Matters season on Teachers' TV (October 10-16) will put questions of discipline in a wider context, though it considers some practical issues, such as violence.

The ongoing series Teaching With Bayley (Teachers' TV, October 10 and 17) is full of tips on setting standards and dealing with low-level disruption from talkers, attention-seekers and similar irritants. As well as setting out the main points of how to tackle unruly pupils, the series gives a rare glimpse into other teachers' classrooms, with plenty of examples of how teacher communication and body language can help resolve conflict and enforce discipline.

Meanwhile, Teachers' TV began its third term of broadcasting with a special weekend of programming aimed at Britain's 25,000 newly qualified teachers.

Like all of its output, programmes were zoned into primary, secondary and general viewing, and dealt with such matters as lesson planning, assessment, life-work balance and behaviour management. To catch up on what has been shown so far, log on to www.teachers.tv.

Things ain't what they used to be? Perhaps, but there is surely a hint of sadism in programmes such as That'll Teach 'Em (Discovery Civilisation channel, October 1, 9-10pm), which observe a group of modern children as they experience past educational regimes - in this case, O-levels at a 1950s grammar school.

In some cases, there are good reasons why schools have changed in the past half-century. For one thing, there is less tolerance nowadays of aggressive behaviour towards or between pupils.

Later in the term, the BBC primary series Watch is repeating its excellent programme for five to seven-year-olds on bullying, How to Be a Bully (Fridays, November 11-25).

Channel 4 has a new series about teenage aggression, Don't Make Me Angry (October 31-November 2), which includes self-harming. Hormones may be a principal enemy of learning.

Robin Buss

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