The behaviour question

15th November 2013 at 00:00

One of my students has behaved inappropriately for the past year. He has referred to me in derogatory ways, thrown scissors, kicked chairs and drawn vulgar images on his homework. But he is yet to be sanctioned. I have followed the school's protocol, ticked the right boxes, spoken to tutors, heads of year and parents, and still nothing has been done. It has escalated to the student drawing inappropriate pictures of me in the back of his textbook. I have been told he is going to write a letter saying sorry and will do litter picking. Surely this response is unacceptable? His behaviour is a personal attack on me in a sexualised way. However, I am told that, although he has admitted his actions, unless I can prove he did it recently there is little that can be done. The nature of the pictures has left me feeling very uncomfortable in his presence. But I am expected to continue teaching him, as though nothing has happened. My head of department is very supportive but can only do so much. Any advice on how to deal with this?

What you said

Contact your union and the Teacher Support Network (, which may be able to advise you as to your legal rights. In the longer term, you may wish to find another school to work at, one where the management is better at decision-making and leadership.

The expert view

I am sorry to hear you have been treated badly and let down. First of all, what sanctions have you set? Don't forget that you, too, are the school. In this case, I would have been hopping mad and made a few phone calls home myself, and probably set a detention or two. That apart, I would expect a school leader to deal with the violence and abuse in a structured way. Any one of the things you describe could be sufficient for an exclusion. To hell with a letter of apology. Who wants one from a student like this, when you know that they won't mean it? Keep going up the tree until you find someone who will help you. It may be a case, I am sad to say, of you hassling people until they do something. If you feel threatened then your safety is at stake and the school has a duty of care. Complain to the headteacher, put it in writing, and say that unless you have some level of support you will be forced to contact your union.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru. Read more from Tom on his TES Connect blog (bit.lytombennett) or follow him on Twitter at @tesBehaviour. Watch his behaviour videos at www.tesconnect.combehaviourvideos

Post your questions at www.tesconnect.combehaviour


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