3.10.2 Root causes and remedies for un-cooperative behaviour

Un-cooperative behaviour can take several guises. At one extreme, it may be physical, deliberately disruptive, and perhaps dangerous to others; at the other end of the behavioural spectrum it might manifest as unwillingness to engage with classroom activities in a range of ways. A spectrum of behaviours is possible with a hierarchy of severity. Though it is perhaps inevitable that may pupils will exhibit moments of lack of co-operation at times, for the clear majority of learners these will be temporary frustrations and will not represent a longer-term issue. Un-cooperative behaviours may be fuelled with frustration, by feelings of lack of self-worth, or with the child making unrealistic expectations of themselves, often by trying to - and failing - to match the performance of others. For many pupils, though, their issues will be temporary states, and the behavioural symptoms will be mild. There may be other factors at play which are driving the child's behaviour, and it may be appropriate to consider referring the pupil to an appropriate member of staff with the requisite authority to deal with the matter. There is the potential, for example, for underlying causes such as the child being impacted on, or at risk from, abuse or radicalisation; a referral to the designated safeguarding officer might be appropriate in such situations, if there is reasonable cause to do so. To some extent, the potential for un-cooperative, disruptive, or other oppositional behaviour can be mitigated by careful and considerate planning and preparation ahead of time, by thinking through of the potential distractions and sources of conflict and working to remove them so that they do not represent an issue in class, and by clarity and consistency in the teaching. This, when allied with a considerate approach to learners who might represent problematic behaviours, though not to the extent of shaping the session to them, is appropriate. If un-cooperative or disruptive behaviour occurs, it should be treated fairly, quickly and with clarity. Where instructions are given before activities, then they can be used to relate the activity back to the learner during and after the activity has ended. Direct confrontation should be avoided, or the undermining of the learner in ways which might reinforce oppositional behaviour. Sanctions for non-cooperation need to be fair, proportionate, relevant to the task in hand, and known by all in advance. Teachers, as well as other staff who have a pupil responsibility - such as teaching assistants - have a statutory authority to discipline pupils exhibiting unacceptable behaviour, or who fail to follow a reasonable instruction. This extends to periods, such as on outside school visits, where the teacher is acting in loco parentis. A teacher needs to be proactive; planning in respect of approach and in session content will give an advantage, but there will be times when we are all stretched by a non-compliant or obstructive pupil, but we must ensure we consider both the relationships between behaviour and that behaviour as potentially symptomatic of an underlying condition, and the disciplinary aspects of teaching, very carefully to ensure best practice.

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