Friday Forum behaviour series

26th November 2004 at 00:00
Liz Henning is associate adviser for Manchester local education authority.

A former head of maths in Rochdale, she is a troubleshooter, giving support in behaviour management and maths teaching strategies to teachers in the city "There's a lot of bravado about drink and drugs among young people. We had one girl in a school who brought in a little packet wrapped up like cocaine and it turned out to be talcum powder. She wanted people to think she had drugs on her. However, there are kids who are regular drinkers and drug-takers, and in school it's very difficult to deal with the detrimental effect on personality, the huge moods swings which exacerbate difficulties in interacting with others.

"If parents are drinking or taking drugs as well, then the challenge is even greater. In such cases it's crucial that children know what the rules are and that they know they are there to keep them safe. These often troubled young people need to know that teachers are imposing sanctions because they care, not just because they can.

"I try to make pupils aware that they are making a choice when they drink and take drugs and that they have to live with the consequences of that. I sometimes ask them whether they see themselves still drinking heavily or doing drugs when they are 60, whether their children will also be drinkers and drug-takers. They rarely want their own children to do what they do, and few want to carry on their habits into adulthood."

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