16th November 2012 at 00:00
The problem - I have a Year 6 (P6) class in which some 40 per cent of pupils have special educational needs - including two with statements of emotional and behavioural difficulties (EBD). One of the statemented pupils is particularly needy. If we are doing something he doesn't want to do, he tends to sulk, then refuse and walk straight out of class and either wander around or go to the EBD unit. I'm at my wits' end

What you said

We have a similar situation with a pupil who will run and hide. We think she likes the attention, so we have decided not to feed into the attention-getting. We are now giving her a pass to carry that says "The teacher is aware that I am out of the room and not to worry". When other teachers see this they are to leave her alone. Our hope is that the pupil will become bored and return to class.


If a child walks out of my class (Year 6), I leave them to it. That child then has to make up the time for me and discuss why they walked out. It has worked so far.


The expert view

Have you tried sanctions? If a child is desperately seeking attention and gets it by storming out, they will never amend their behaviour. Rather, it is being fed and rewarded by exactly what they want. Try the following:

1. Use praise when he does something commendable - this can be pastoral or work-related. Do it whenever you can to show him that good behaviour gets attention.

2. Make sure bad behaviour is punished. Have a place to which he can be taken whenever he kicks off or, better, when he shows signs of kicking off. Have him taken out to a quiet place where he doesn't have his peers' attention. Don't let it escalate to the point where he walks out.

3. I wouldn't just let him wander around with a pass, as this creates a sense of power for him. If you're waiting for him to amend his ways, you'll wait for ever. He needs interventions that are consistent, fair and monotonously predictable until he works out that it's easier to behave than not to. He needs this now, or he'll repeat his behaviours into young adult life. Good luck.

Tom Bennett's latest book, Teacher, is out now, published by Continuum. Post your questions at

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