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Better behaved

Reports of increasing violence and bad behaviour in schools are routine in the media. But when I spent a year observing an outer London comprehensive, I found a surprisingly ordered environment

By Fran Abrams   December 2005

It is 9.40am at Seven Kings high school in Ilford, and a teacher is struggling to get a class of 16 year olds to pay attention. “Jamil,” she says, “I asked you to stop talking.”

She waits a few seconds, but Jamil doesn’t respond. He’s slouching in his chair, not meeting her eye. Her expression hardens. “Move it,” she says, pointing to a seat on the far side of the room away from his friends.

Jamil looks up, defiant. “I wasn’t talking, man!”

“Move, Jamil!” she says, keeping her voice low.

Slowly he stands up. Pushes back his chair,…

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