The conference was organised by CALM - Crisis and Aggression Limitation and Management - which offers training in the management of aggressive and challenging behaviour.
David Leadbetter, a former Edinburgh social worker who founded the company, said: "There is a big research gap in this area. We need coherent organisation that involves policy leadership. It's not just about staff training; we need a whole new approach. There is a lot of uncertainty in this area and a lot of teachers are very concerned about acceptable practice when dealing with difficult children."
The issue has been given added urgency with the publication of annual figures on reports of assaults on school staff. In 2001-02, there were 5,412 incidents logged - up from 1,898 in 1998-99, the first year returns were submitted by all 32 authorities. Almost a half involved physical violence.
Peter Peacock, Education Minister, has pledged to make indiscipline in schools his top priority.
Professor David Allen of Glamorgan University told the conference: "There has not been a lot of progress over the last 10 years. We are trying to get a collective together - of people from across the UK - and we hope that by grouping together there will be more chance of securing funding."
Mike Finlayson, chief executive of Teacher Support Scotland, said that the conference had made him more aware of the needs of teachers. "The attitude towards teachers is hostile. In general what they do is not well understood and people do have preconceived ideas. Teachers are not getting the support they need and we will be addressing this in our research."