17th December 2010 at 00:00
The problem: I take an after-school class for gifted and talented pupils, but some of them talk throughout the lesson. I have tried taking them aside but this has had little effect. I can't use the school's sanctions as it is after hours. I can't kick them off the course as their parents have paid for them to attend. What can I do?

What you said

"Call home. I'm sure the parents will be interested to hear how their hard-earned money is being used."


"Perhaps a lesson in the evening, after a long day, is more challenging in terms of concentration for them. Could you try changing your teaching tactics?"


"The fact that parents are paying is exactly the reason why you can ask them to leave. Just send a note home saying their child's attendance has been suspended until they agree to co-operate."



One of the main problems is that as teachers we can sometimes assume that pupils willing to stay after school are naturally motivated. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Whether it is a sports team or an academic activity, always be on your guard.

It is often easy to teach in a different way in these situations. You may have unwittingly dropped your usual standards, and pupils will sense when they can get away with something. I would treat these sessions in exactly the same way as a normal lesson. If pupils are not working well together, look at the seating plan. Issue rewards and sanctions. Sanctions should focus on removal from the activity rather than carrying into the next school day.

I would be tempted to phone home. If parents are paying good money, letting them know that the money is not refundable if their child is removed from the course should lead to some action at home. If you are not happy with the response, refer it to your head of department. If they are any good, they will be keen to make sure that staff who are giving up their free time are happy.

Finally, pull the pupils aside individually and explain to them that as a gifted and talented pupil there is added responsibility on their shoulders. There are a number of pupils you could easily replace them with. As such, they need to earn the right to stay on the course. There is nothing like a bit of competition, especially among boys, to bring out their compliant side.

If you have issued a warning, follow through with it. When one pupil is removed, I guarantee the others will get the message.

Chris Wheeler is head of RE and sociology at Helsby High School, Cheshire. For more advice, go to



- Treat after-school sessions in the same way as a normal lesson.

- Contact parents or guardians and let them know the child could be removed from the group.

- Let pupils know they need to earn the right to stay on the course.


- Let pupils get away with behaviour you would not tolerate in a normal lesson.

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