He says one incident was like a “full-scale riot” with kids under tables, on tables, and hanging out the window.
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There is no reason why there should be bad behaviour in any school if there is “strong discipline and traditional teaching values”, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson has told Sky News.
One teacher who has worked in schools across London, and wants to remain anonymous, talks about the challenges he has faced.
I was kicked, spat at, once I was bitten and had to go to hospital for eight hours and have a tetanus jab.
And that was a primary school.
In one school, the physical violence was shocking. They were fighting in the classroom.
When I raised it with the senior staff they said: “Well at least they’re not punching each other in the head anymore.”
That was progress for them.
With some children, you recognise on a human level that they are in distress and they have mental health issues that manifests in bad behaviour.
I had one kid, he had this look in his eye. You had to approach him with caution. He was like a scared animal.
On one occasion I told him that next time he could do better with his work and that hit a switch and he went to Defcon 5.
He was throwing stuff around. He threw a chair at another teacher. He blocked the sink and dragged a table out of the classroom.
You could tell there something much deeper there.
Another element is the rudeness and defiance from some kids. That’s harder to deal with because they are out to make your life a misery.
I had a class with eight boys, the alpha male would start shouting and I would try and send him out.
But when he eventually went, the next ranking boy would step up and start causing trouble. There’s a hierarchy, it was a war of attrition.
I had a year six class which was like St Trinian’s, just without the comedy.
It was absolute chaos.
When I came home at the end of the day I said to my wife I couldn’t teach these kids, I was just occupying the same space in time as them.
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And I’m someone who was considered to have good behaviour management skills. Other teachers would seek my help.
At one school, I walked past a classroom which had a supply teacher.
It was mayhem: kids under tables, on tables, one was on top of a cupboard, another was hanging out of the window.
The noise level was unbelievable; like a proper full-scale riot.
That teacher caught my eye as I walked past and the look of desperation was shocking.
To my shame I didn’t go in to help because I knew there was nothing I could do.
That was the only time in my seven years of teaching across four inner-city schools that I have ever shied away from tackling bad behaviour.
I was in an outstanding-rated school once where the behaviour was either amazing or so rude and vile.
It was like Russian roulette.
You’d speak to year 10 kids and you wouldn’t know whether they would say “sorry” or “who the f*** are you?”.
That unpredictability raises your anxiety.
A big problem is that not all school leaders recognise when there is a problem.
Having a head that says “well they are fine when I speak to them” doesn’t work.
Some also turn a blind eye to bad behaviour because it’s simpler that way.
There’s no one fix. What works in one school doesn’t work in others.
School is not the army. If you are trying to manage behaviour by turning schools into military barracks then you will ultimately fail.
All schools are different. I was in two inner city primaries, literally up the road from one another and they had completely different behaviour.
I don’t know why that’s the case. Once the culture is there, it feeds on itself.
If you have a calm environment, new kids can’t break the mould.
But if you have a culture where anything goes, kids that were well behaved will adapt to that.
Kids are the most adaptable things on this planet.