30th April 2010 at 01:00
The problem: A pupil put drawing pins on my chair while I was working elsewhere in the classroom. I sat on them and then had to take time out to get a tetanus injection. What sanction should be imposed on the boy?

What you said

"It is one of the oldest pranks in the book and schoolchildren have been doing it for years. For my class a missed breaktime or two and a letter of apology would be more than sufficient. And to be honest, at my school there would be much laughter and reminiscing in the staffroom about similar childish mischief."


"If a teacher did this to a pupil I wonder if parents would laugh about it! I think it is assault and the pupil should be excluded. I find it hard to believe that we work in a job where it is OK or even funny to be the victim of an assault."


"Even if it was a prank, they need to learn that this type of behaviour is unacceptable. I would push for harsh sanctions."


The expert view

A pupil putting drawing pins on a teacher's chair with the intention of causing harm is a serious incident that requires a serious response. Regardless of whether it was a joke, this can alter the climate of the class and the level of respect pupils show towards the teacher. This behaviour can also undermine the teacher's authority, which can in turn encourage other unwanted behaviour in the classroom. The primary concern is to ensure that this behaviour does not happen again. Pupils need to be aware of its seriousness and know that it will not be tolerated. This can be reinforced by issuing the correct level of sanction.

Time for reflection is crucial for the pupil to recognise the implications of his behaviour. There are many ways in which schools allow for reflection, but one is for individual pupils to be involved in a social network to discuss making the right choices in a given situation. This social skills behaviour programme is one I have developed in schools and is focused on teaching a specific skill during reflection. This places emphasis on working closely with parents or carers so the same behaviour does not recur. The programme lasts a minimum of five days, during which time all breaks and lunchtimes are supervised away from their peers. The pupil does not take part in any extra-curricular activities, represent the school or participate in after-school clubs.

Once the programme has been completed, the pupil and parents or carers are involved in a maintenance programme so the new skill will be sustainable in the future. This programme allows pupils to take ownership of their behaviour in the right way.

Nicola S. Morgan is a behaviour management consultant and author of 'Quick, Easy and Effective Behaviour Management Ideas for the Classroom'. For more information email Also see



- Make sure pupils know the seriousness of this behaviour and that it will not be tolerated.

- Apply the appropriate sanctions, using the school's behaviour policy.

- Give the pupil time for reflection to recognise the implications of their behaviour.


- Treat it as a harmless prank - it could end up undermining your authority and encourage other unwanted behaviour.

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