'He's too extreme to fit in'

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The Independent Online

What is it really like to have a seriously disruptive child in your classroom? Here, a 52-year-old head of science at an inner-city co-educational comprehensive talks about Zigger, the kind of boy most teachers would like to see excluded permanently.

What is it really like to have a seriously disruptive child in your classroom? Here, a 52-year-old head of science at an inner-city co-educational comprehensive talks about Zigger, the kind of boy most teachers would like to see excluded permanently.

"Zigger, so called because he has a scar where he was knifed and had bad stitches, is 11 or 12. He can be as good as a lamb if he is enjoying what he is doing. But he chooses. He was excluded temporarily once for producing a carpet knife and cutting up other kids' books.

Sometimes he masturbates in class. If you are pushed, you send him outside. Then you have to recoup your lesson, calm the class. When the lesson is 40 minutes and one kid out of 30 takes 10, it means 290 minutes of learning time is lost.

A child like that may be sent to the support for learning unit, but often the bizarre behaviour continues and it is necessary to contact home. Frequently, no one is there. Then another place has to be found for him. Often this means the boy sitting in the head's office to the end of the school day.

It might happen weekly. The situation is not any better or any worse with a teacher of my experience. I have more strategies but if the child is really out on a limb there is not a lot anyone can do.

There is a percentage of society that is mentally ill and a percentage that is criminal. Society perceives that these people do not appear in schools. They do.

In a selective school you can have a lower percentage. A school that is not selective has a disproportionate number. It causes parents to wonder about the school.

I think the problem is getting worse. Schools are under all sorts of new coshes and inspection demands. There is less time for one child. Money for support has been reduced and there are less avenues, no matter how clever your management, to getoutside accommodation.

Most classroom teachers would have the Ziggers excluded. It leaves you frustrated, angry. We want to teach the others. Children that extreme can't be integrated. Special units on site just leave them free to continue to disrupt learning for others.

The way I look at it, if you had to drive with some maniac sitting on your bonnet, wouldn't you be tempted to brake hard and shake them off?"

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