I am coming to the end of my probationary year and, overall, I have enjoyed it immensely. But the area that has caused me the most lost sleep and stress is the inclusion of pupils who are clearly not coping in mainstream education. You don't need to be an educational psychologist to make this observation.
Inclusion in terms of those pupils who are, for example, visually impaired or physically disabled is not, it should be stated, the problem here. With planning, their needs can and should most definitely be met in the mainstream where appropriate.
But behaviour is what must be tackled, and if it takes refusing to teach pupils who are disruptive, so be it. I would question the motives of anyone who made teachers feel guilty for striking over this issue.
I have run a successful lunchtime philosophy club. One week the discussion turned to discipline. To my amazement, the majority of pupils present advocated the return of corporal punishment. They were, and are, understandably fed up with the behaviour of fellow pupils.
I do not wish to see a return to corporal punishment. I genuinely believe it to be an abuse of human rights and would utterly oppose its reintroduction. But I also hold education to be an important human right.
It is detrimental to the vast majority of students that many of these pupils who cannot or will not behave are kept in mainstream education.
It is classroom behaviour that is the barrier to the recruitment and retention of teachers. Teachers should not be made to feel that they are inept if pupils fail to behave. It is disgraceful that schools are being made to feel that exclusions should be reduced. If a pupil needs to be excluded, they need to be excluded.
Marj Adams is also right to point out that "some of the misbehaving entourage are middle-class brats who mercilessly mock their teachers and their fellow pupils". Whatever the background of pupils, we need to have a uniform approach: disruption will not be tolerated.
Of course disruptive pupils have educational needs that need to be met. But far too often, the silent majority are the ones who really suffer and are not able to have the education they deserve and want.
It is time to act, and stand united on this issue.
Name and address supplied