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Non-stop talkers

Mike Kent is a Friday columnist and head of Comber Grove primary school in the south London borough of Southwark

"This is a difficult one. I've got an NQT with three lads who won't stop yakking and giggling, and it's hard to know what to do about it. I think a lot depends on the quality and layout of the classroom. It helps to be able to isolate the chatterers in some way, to keep them away from disturbing others, as well as creating an environment where they want to contribute.

"I had 40 applicants when I appointed my deputy and I went round to see the school and the classrooms of every one on the shortlist. The woman I appointed had so much going on in her classroom, it was stuffed full of things to do, really attractive and colourful, and her children just wanted to work in there. Eighteen years on and her classroom is still full of things happening, so you channel the chatter.

"I had one really lively girl, she could talk for ever, and I made her a playground mentor to the younger ones, using her energy that way. She was very good at it. If a child really won't shut up, they are sent to me. They sit in a corner of my office and I tell them they can sit there all day. By dinner time they've had enough, they're bored rigid, and they tend to go back and quieten down after that. We can be quite hard if needs be. We have quite strict rules about courtesy for the common good."

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