19th 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 "It is rare that teachers have to deal with violent pupils. General unrest may be a problem, but teachers will not often have to deal with violent attacks. I was attacked as a young teacher and I have not been attacked since. Even children who threaten violence are unlikely to carry it out. A boy threatened to hit me with a chair recently; he said that if I'd been a man he would have. I turned that around. I told him that what he said demonstrated he was in control of his emotions because he didn't hit me. He made the choice.

"Children have to see that anger is an emotion, like happiness, and that they can take charge of it; they can be in the driver's seat. That's easier to put across to older children. You have to remain calm when confronted with violent children; if you show fear then you are in a weak position. It is helpful to provide them with a bolt-hole so that if they are struggling with their anger and are going to blow, they know there is a place they can go to let off steam.

"Teachers should never get into a corner physically with a violent child.

If there is a problem, they should leave the door open so that they can get out if that child goes for them. They should request support in the classroom from senior staff, especially from those skilful in managing difficult pupils."

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