Trainees told to talk to pupils who misbehave, not punish them

Facing a new class as a trainee teacher can be an intimidating experience. But according to Welsh teaching experts, fledgling teachers need to have more confidence in their ability to control a boisterous class or tame that chair-throwing pupil.

Rex Phillips, organiser for NASUWT Cymru, believes there has been a big change as teacher training colleges are taking behaviour management more seriously.

Swansea School of Education has appointed a full-time member of staff primarily responsible for behaviour management.

Dr Sue Lyle, the school's principal lecturer, said trainees are taught up- to-date methods. One of the most common is "restorative dialogue", where trainees are advised to talk to badly behaved pupils rather than punish them.

"If you asked NQTs if they had enough training in behaviour management they'd say no, even if they had a whole course on it," said Dr Lyle. "You can't prepare for every classroom."

Anne Knowles, secondary postgraduate certificate in education course director at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, said pupil behaviour has always been trainees' greatest concern. The university is increasingly teaching new methods to reassure trainees and give them confidence in dealing with pupils in the classroom.

"In the past it was just a case of imposing yourself as a teacher, but now we are much more specific in detail," she said. "We also do quite a lot of theoretical work." She said role play is useful for trying out new techniques and gives trainees a chance to examine their own subconscious body language.

But Dr Lyle believes there is not enough time for trainees to gain experience. "The trouble is people tend to fall back on the way they were disciplined and taught at school, and that isn't necessarily going to be effective today."

Earlier this year the national behaviour and attendance review found many teachers in Wales received little or no training in these two areas. According to Dr Lyle, courses at Swansea have been snapped up as eagerly by established teachers as by trainees.

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