19th November 2004 at 00:00
Mike Kent is a Friday columnist and head of Comber Grove primary school in the south London borough of Southwark "Most teachers would agree that violence and aggression in schools are on the increase. We live in a society where everybody knows their rights but few know their responsibilities, and schools reflect this. And it's starting at a much younger age. One of my newest teachers had two reception children in her last school who jumped on the table tops and told their teacher to fuck off. It wasn't dealt with because senior management was always out at meetings.

"Primary schools have to get it right if children are going to thrive. In our school, great emphasis is placed on the foundation stage. The basics of socialising are learned there, and poor behaviour is quickly and firmly dealt with. There are clear guidelines, followed by all the staff.

"But the other end of the school is important too. The example set by older children is carefully watched (and imitated) by the youngest. I have outstanding Year 5 and 6 teachers who provide stimulating lessons and treat the children as responsible young adults. They demand the highest standards of behaviour, whatever the home circumstances.

"The role of the head and deputy is crucial. They must be highly visible day in, day out, dealing with incidents as soon as they arise and supporting staff. Serious problems are then far less likely to arise."

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