Rise to challenge

20th January 2006 at 00:00
Whereas before, confrontation between staff and students was relatively rare it is now becoming an all too common occurrence in the college where I work. I am now having to deal with a dozen or so cases a week. This is largely the result of the influx of young people into FE for which staff are, on the whole I believe, unprepared. I have lost two members of staff recently to issues relating to student behaviour and I fear I will lose more if something is not done.

A rather uncharitable colleague of mine who teaches in an inner-city school recently said to me that FE lecturers are finally realising what it is to be a teacher. When they get it right, then they can have pay parity. I don't ascribe to this view but I do think that if there is a proving ground then the teaching of "challenging" students might be it. Training is vital and if you are open-minded it can be life-changing. I have learnt that confrontation can in almost all cases be avoided. There are a number of excellent courses on classroom management. I attended one last year as a result of problems I was having and I cannot recommend it more highly. That there was nothing so elucidating during my PGCE year is an oversight that I would hope teacher-training providers have since addressed.

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