What you say

5th 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 "Swearing has become more acceptable, and if children are coming from backgrounds where it's widespread, they don't think there's anything wrong with it. As teachers you have to give the lie of being shocked because children have to know when swearing is inappropriate. It can be regarded as being offensive and children need to be aware of that. They need to know where the boundaries of acceptable behaviour lie so they have a feeling of comfort and security.

"But you have to temper your reactions. While swearing should never be acceptable in school, you will hear it. And if you throw a wobbler every time you hear a child swear, you'll be exhausted. But if children swear at you, that's a different story because that is a provocation and a signal that they are taking you on. They have pressed your button and you have to show that you retain control or they have won. You have to act, not react.

The school might react with exclusion, but an afternoon off and an escape from homework might be the very thing that the child is seeking. Some become very good at playing the system."

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