A classic case of kids acting up
In the first event of its kind in Scotland, Falkirk teachers last week took part in an interactive in-service session where drama techniques were used to stage confrontations with pupils.
The approach, which was part of the launch of the council's "Framework for Intervention" initiative, is intended to identify the environmental factors that affect a child's behaviour. It also aims to raise awareness of how teachers can make pupils behave badly or improve their results.
The scenario the teachers were presented with involved the problems a principal subject teacher was having with third-year pupil "Kirsty", and the role of the school's behaviour co-ordinator in bringing about an improvement.
Graham Sharrock, an expert in educational psychology who works for forum interactive, an Edinburgh-based management consultancy which ran the workshop as part of a four-day course for primary teachers, said: "This approach uses actors to allow teachers to look at what they need to do in order to address problems. They use the actors to try out different solutions needed to bring about better behaviour from pupils."
Linda Montgomery, quality improvement officer in Falkirk, said: "Teachers can relate to a set of circumstances and find mutual support to think things through and reflect on their thoughts without having to make serious decisions in the heat of the moment."
The Falkirk initiative, based on work carried out in Birmingham, aims to train staff in a variety of strategies. Eventually all schools in the authority will have at least one member of staff who will have undergone the training.
Kathi McCully, inclusion support co-ordinator with the council, said the framework is intended to head off classroom clashes. "We hope that the people on this course will go back to school and discuss with their colleagues how to take this forward. We want them to have ownership of this. Ideally we hope that every school in the authority will have a recognisable system where behaviour that is causing concern is not dismissed or the teacher is not told to go away or the child is not sent to be 'fixed'."
Shona Martin, a teacher at St Francis primary in Falkirk, said the drama sessions were "realistic and informative" and had made her aware of strategies which could be used to prevent some of the depicted situations arising.
Ellen Glassey, from Laurieston primary, liked the idea of each school having its own behaviour co-ordinator. "I can see the value of all members of staff having someone to go to for ideas and to learn about possible strategies."
forum interactive can be contacted on 0131-447 8733 or through its website, foruminteractive.co.uk.