Difficult behaviour

14th January 2008 at 00:00

TEAMWORK IN THE MANAGEMENT OF EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL DIFFICULTIES. By Fran Hill and Lynne Parsons. David Fulton, pound;13. EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL DiFFICULTIES: a Reader. Edited by John Visser and Steve Rayner. QEd. pound;12.50.

How do you manage difficult behaviour at school? It's a thorny question that these books approach in different ways: one has a wholly practical thrust, the other is discursive and reflective.

This is a notoriously tough subject on which to give advice. A teacher's success here seems to depend - more than in almost any other area of teaching - on "know-how" rather than "know that". Given this, Fran Hill and Lynne Parsons have put together that most difficult of things: a good, practical book on behaviour management aimed at senior school staff and advisory staff who wish to develop support networks among teachers.

It takes a thoroughly contemporary outlook and examines, among other things, communication in the classroom, children's involvement in developing class rules and the nature of teacher feedbck. It is organised around a set of well thought-out charts and forms which are used as the basis for staff discussion. These are models of clarity, and the result is one of the most focused and useful books on this subject I have ever seen.

In contrast, Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties: a Reader takes a more leisurely itinerary through the field. The blurb announces that it addresses issues raised in the Government's green paper and in TTA and HMI documents, particularly the issue of inclusion. It's an unusual collection with an interesting range of contributors who have recent experience in the field.

As in most compilations the quality is patchy, but there is useful discussion, particularly on the themes of managing aggression and inter-agency involvement.

In a political climate which calls for more inclusion - while more and more children are being excluded from schools - each of these books will make an important contribution.

Gary Thomas is professor of education at Oxford Brookes University

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