Education Quandary: A pupil has behaved very violently towards me and my confidence has gone. What can I do?

Hilary's advice

First of all, don't feel badly about reacting this way. Violence towards us, in any form, is an assault on who we are and most of us find it hard to get over. But I know that any other advice I can offer here is probably going to feel inadequate and irrelevant, as you have already made it clear that your recent teacher training was of no help, and neither was any of the advice you received from school colleagues.

The hard truth is that there are some pupils in school today who have no respect for anyone and who do not hesitate to bully, threaten and intimidate teachers, and there is no foolproof way of dealing with them. Experience will help you become more confident and more able to assess situations. And your school is obliged to give you good mentoring support – if your mentor is no use, go to your headteacher and demand someone better.

The practical advice from some behaviour experts is to think ahead about problems, and how you would handle them and what you would want as an outcome. Confronting a potentially violent situation is not always the best option. Sometimes it can be wiser to ignore it, or to try and distract those involved.

I think your bigger problem might be dealing with the fear you have been left with, and for that you might want to consider short-term counselling or help from an external body such as your union, or the Teacher Support Network.

Readers' advice

How disgraceful that a young teacher should have this happen at the start of her working life. The school should make sure that the parents of this boy, as well as the boy himself, realise that this behaviour cannot be sanctioned. It is impossible to have a decent society if respect for authority is lost. If your school will not take a stand, my advice would be to change jobs.

Audrey Coussins, London W2

After teaching in primary schools for nearly 20 years I was last year pushed to the ground by an angry 11-year-old.

The shock left me trembling for weeks and I am sure that if this had happened at the start of my career, I would not have continued. People should know the levels of aggression that teachers have to deal with these days. All the old tricks of speaking calmly and sending children out of the room do not work on those who have "lost it" or who have no respect for you.

Helen Griffin, Bristol

I have had chairs thrown in the classroom, tables pushed over, fists raised and doors slammed in my face. What keeps me going is the knowledge that it is only a small number of children that cause these problems, and that the others are mainly well-behaved and willing to learn. Hold this majority in mind when the rest cause you grief – and do not give the others the satisfaction of feeling that they have won.

Brian Tanfield, Hampshire

Next Week's Quandary

What is your advice about teaching at an international school? I'm strongly tempted by the thought of working in the sunshine, and getting away from our sapping health-and-safety culture for a bit of adventure, but I'm also ambitious and do not want to end up in a backwater.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at They can be searched by topic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

WORLDbytes: Two-Day Intensive Camera training and Shoot: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th March

expenses on shoots: WORLDbytes: Volunteering with a media based charity,for a ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 4 Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: A school in Tameside is currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £70 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind are currently looking for ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower