The Behaviour Question

2nd March 2012 at 00:00

I teach a large Year 6 class with lots of behavioural issues and I'm not a pushover when it comes to behaviour. But one boy has become so challenging that I feel he can't get through a single lesson or breaktime without a fight with another pupil, a tantrum or direct defiance. He seems to enjoy being the victim and telling me about all the things the other children have said and done to him, but on many occasions his tales have unravelled as being a pack of lies. Today was a final straw for me when he started shouting in my face and throwing a chair, two things he has not done before.

What you said


Can he not sit on his own in your classroom away from the others? This may limit the extent to which he is able to antagonise them. Equally, if he's starting to throw chairs I don't see why he should have the right to remain in the classroom. He should be sent to the headteacher, or to sit in reception and cool off.


You have a duty of care towards him, but more importantly to the other pupils. If he is throwing things he is directly endangering the others and yourself. Pass the buck on to the headteacher and if they disagree contact your union - and watch how quickly the school backs down.

The expert answer

Poor you. You're moving mountains, and being expected to juggle them too. The hard work you're putting in - and it sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing, incidentally - is at grave risk of being undermined here by the actions of one, as it so often is.

This boy needs to be isolated. Every day he acts up, he needs to be removed from the group until the end of the morning or afternoon. Find somewhere he can be removed to: a panic room, a quiet room, the head's study, whatever you can find.

He works alone until he can get through an entire morning in relative peace. If he messes about in lessons, he gets removed from the class and put into solitary for the next half-day. Work out the details yourself, but get this set up.

Make sure you have the support of your headteacher. Ask them if they can help arrange this. Tell them you need it in order to teach this young charmer about the values of the community and what happens to people who abuse their peers and their learning.

It sounds tough, but he needs a tough lesson now. He needs to realise that attention and love aren't gained through being unpleasant but by complying with the needs of others.

Good luck.

Tom Bennett is author of The Behaviour Guru and Not Quite a Teacher.

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