QA - Ask a teacher

31st October 2008 at 00:00

Q: We have a class of 10 to 11-year-olds who are perfectly manageable with permanent members of staff, but are rude and uncooperative with supply teachers. A few have refused to come to our school for that class. What is the best approach?

Deirdre, Sutherland

A: This is easily solved. The headteacher must speak to this class about valuing and respecting everyone in the school. The deputy head, the class teacher and the supply teacher must be there as well.

The children need to know that they must show the same respect and make the same effort for temporary, supply staff in a lesson as they do if it was the headteacher or regular class teacher.

No teaching and learning time can be wasted by pupils exhibiting rude, aggressive and disruptive behaviour.

It's not just a case of Every Child Matters in a school, but Every Adult Matters too. If you turn a blind eye to supply staff getting a hammering you can bet the cover supervisors, teaching assistants, student teachers, NQTs and even some of your regular staff are getting it too.

It's worse than pointless having policy documents and suggested behaviour procedures if you don't back the temporary teacher in the classroom and playground. John, Devon

A: There is obviously a culture of disrespect towards unfamiliar adults that needs to be broken. The only way to tackle this is with firm leadership from the top.

To begin with, a teaching assistant familiar with the class should always be in the class with a supply teacher.

They can help by refocusing specific children and providing a familiar presence, as well as being able to report back to the head later on, and the following day if necessary.

A member of the senior management team could also drop in on the lesson frequently, leaving the children wondering when they might drop by again. Any major incidents must be dealt with immediately.

Nick, London

A: If adults are giving an impression that supply teachers' lessons are less valuable than what "real teachers" do, then it is no wonder that the pupils are picking up on this. The fact that this issue appears to have dragged on and affected the school's reputation, shows that your head has failed to respond seriously

Anne, Tunbridge Wells.

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