Be open about misbehaviour

29th September 2000 at 01:00
THE headline "New staff 'unready' for special needs" caught my eye (TES, September 15). If new teachers are not ready for the "drive for inclusion", what chance have those of us who are longer in the tooth and have not undertaken any recent training?

For many, inclusion seems to have been interpreted as keeping all children in school regardless of the situation. Teachers are made to feel guilty when they have run out of strategies to deal with badly-behaved children.

Consequently, many teachers feel they have to deal with things that 10 years ago would not have occurred in their classrooms and this takes them away from helping the majority.

I teach in a secondary which shares a site with a special school and we actively support inclusion of children with severe disabilities. This works really well and both sets o pupils benefit from the arrangement.

The problems in the class stem from the poor behaviour of mainstream pupils, often taking me away from helping those pupils we are trying to include.

Somehow, we need to return to the "gold standard" of behaviour if we wish to maintain the "gold standard" of education. Society at large needs to discuss the problem openly and not make teachers feel guilty - they will never solve this problem alone.

I hope the General Teaching Council, ministers and the unions are able to address this issue as I believe it is one of the major (if not the major) obstacles to teacher recruitment and retention. Proper funding for support both on and off site (or in special units attached to schools) is needed.

Keith Milchem

14 Fern Road

St Leonards on Sea

East Sussex

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