Behaviour: Aggressive pupil

8th April 2011 at 01:00
As a cover supervisor I have had to do internal exclusion duty and was left alone with a very aggressive boy. He was rude and threatening. He has been sent in for another incident and I'll have to cover it. Can I request not to be alone with him?

What you said

"Take advice from your union and consider reporting serious threats to the police, if you think it is insufficient to report them to school management. There is clearly some risk of a violent attack whether you are alone with him or with him in a class."


"Does it help if people give him a cooling off period before trying to deal with his behaviour? Building a behaviour strategy for him will help him and other staff. Ask him to reverse roles and tell you what you think a teacher should do if confronted by his bad language and aggressive behaviour."


Tell your line manager you don't feel safe - this is a more serious issue than mere disobedience. Your employer has a duty of care, and if they fail in this, they would be exposed to legal action."


The expert view

The straight answer is yes, in the short term you can request not be alone with him. But you will need a longer-term solution that develops your relationship with this child. In the end, we have to find a way with all the children, and play the cards we are dealt.

Examine your response to children sent to internal exclusion. They often arrive angry, frustrated and aggressive. Be careful not to open a Pandora's box of emotion. Give time for the child to get back in control. Resist the urge to intervene. Take a step back.

Find a member of staff who has a strong relationship with the child. Ask them for help. Be open about what has happened and the strategies you have tried. Don't be afraid of "the behaviour conversation". Most of us had to learn behaviour management skills from great teachers. Ask for a meeting with the child, led by your colleague. But resist laying down the law. Make it clear that you understand the anger, the motivation and the rage. Confirm that the boy understands you are there to supervise, not judge. Make sure he leaves the meeting with a better opinion of you and not with a fistful of targets. When you meet him next, don't mention the meeting. Show him that even if your role is different you are first and foremost an adult modelling emotional restraint.

It is so much harder to be rude and aggressive towards someone who has shown understanding or kindness. Some colleagues might try to persuade you to call in the artillery. It is worth remembering that "children see, children do".

Paul Dix is managing director of Pivotal Education. For 10 per cent off his online classroom management course go to For more behaviour advice, go to



- Ask for help from a member of staff who has a good relationship with the boy.

- Arrange a meeting with the boy, accompanied by a colleague.

- Make it clear you want to understand why the boy is behaving the way he is.


- Lay down the law and give the boy a list of expectations you want him to meet.

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