28th October 2011 at 01:00
The problem - When a pupil throws something at a teacher which results in the need for dry cleaning, who should foot the bill: the teacher, the pupil (never going to happen) or the school?

What you said

The pupil should pay - no argument. Taking the position that it's "never going to happen" just sends out all the wrong messages.


I had a pupil deliberately throw ink at me. The head was pathetic - no action. It was then suggested to the pupil that they daren't do the same to the head. Pupil duly did and was excluded.


The expert view

Chasing the pupil and parents for costs might seem appealing, but some families can't pay and some won't pay, so you risk making yourself appear ridiculous. The problem can very quickly turn away from the child and the throwing, and on to you and your dry-cleaning bill. While the adults argue about who will pay, the primary behaviour is forgotten and the child avoids responsibility for the behaviour.

If you choose to wear clothes that are expensive to clean, then it ought to be at your own risk. Unless you are becoming daily target practice for your pupils, you must accept that even the most experienced teachers with the best behaviour management skills have to deal with the odd flying object. Teaching is quite simply a risky business. Just talk to teachers in early primary who bat away paint, pens and poo.

Buying easily washable clothes for work might not suit your style barometer, but you won't care when they get dirty. The alternative would be to cover your clothes when you teach. Easy to do if you can wear a lab coattabardsmockoverallapronold tracksuit top; not so practical for classroom-based teaching.

The consequences for poor behaviour need to be meaningful, proportionate and restorative, but not financial. If our consequences were financial then it would follow that our rewards should be also, and lessons about taking responsibility for our behaviour would be lost.

Paul Dix is managing director of education training consultancy Pivotal Education.

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