Understanding & Defusing Challenging Behaviour

This one-day course helps participants understanding better the common drivers behind challenging and disruption behaviour and the approaches they can take to defuse situations and reduce conflict should they occur.

For Whom
The course is designed for those who teach, work with or help entertain young people but have little input into higher level disruption prevention strategies such as organisational policy and lesson planning strategies

It is primarily designed for learning support assistants, education officers and activity club staff but will also be of interest to managers and teaching staff who are looking to understand better how to respond to disruptive behaviour should it occur. It is also suitable for those involved in supervising students and young people outside of normal teaching hours for example during school trips and/or residential courses.

Aims and Objectives
To provide a better understanding of commonly occurring disruptive behaviour, common underlying causes including disabilities and the range of techniques and approaches that can be used to diffuse disruptive or challenging behaviour

By attending this workshop participants will improve their understanding of

  • the main causes of challenging or disruptive behaviour
  • the impact of stress and low self esteem
  • hidden disabilities – through a brief introduction
  • the goals of inappropriate behaviour and how we can tackle them
  • ways to diffuse disruptive and challenging behaviour


1. Defining Challenging and Disruptive Behaviour
This first session considers some of the more commonly occurring disruptive behaviours and the possible causes behind them.

  • Types of disruption
    • in the training/classroom
    • outside of teaching and training
  • Possible causes
    • Special Educational Needs
    • Subconscious pay off
      • Attention seeking
      • Power seeking
      • Revenge seeking
      • Displays of inadequacy
    • Working at inappropriate levels
    • Organisational and Issues

2. Defusing Challenging or Disruptive Behaviour
This key session considers the response options that are available when faced with challenging or disruptive behaviour. A wide range of scenarios are considered, together with the possible ways to respond and the likely outcomes. By possible responses and probable outcomes participants begin to understand which responses are likely to work best in any given situation.

  • Response options
  • Matching response options to situations; calming, defusing, de-escalating
  • Refocussing students and agreeing action
  • Changing activities and approaches
  • Reporting/raising concerns – teaching staff, management, safeguarding

3. “Prevention is better than cure”
Understanding the learning preferences and needs of each individual student and tailoring approaches to them in terms of teaching levels, activities and the environment often improves student engagement and reduces the possibility of disruption occurring. Similar approaches offer benefits in non-learning environments too.

This session explores the common causes of disruptive and challenging behaviour and considers how, where and when early adjustments could be made that could reduce disruption and challenging behaviour developing.

3.1 An Introduction to Special Education Needs
It is thought between 25% and 30% students have special needs learning conditions, often undiagnosed. These present a range of challenges for teaching and support staff alike. Students may show extreme skills in some areas, limited skills in others and even the environment can have an impact. Some students perform best it is quiet others when it is lively.

This session provides an overview of some of the more prevalent special needs and considers how course joining paperwork can give some indication as to the possible preferences individual students may have and the adjustments that may need to be in place to maximise their engagement and minimise the risk of disruption and/or challenging behaviours developing.

  • Dyslexia and Dyspraxia
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Asperger syndrome.
  • ADD and ADHD
  • Reading and hearing impairments

3.2 Other Factors to bear in mind
Session 3.2 highlights other factors that can contribute or lead to disruptive behaviour. These are considered outside the direct scope of this course but factors participants should be aware of and may need to consider where disruption is ongoing or frequent by either individual or activity.

  • Incorrect learning/teaching levels – ineffective differentiation, stretch and challenge
  • Underlying distractions and pressures
  • Personal life problems including stress, drugs, safeguarding related issues
  • Organisational policies/procedures, eg special needs support, behavioural management systems

4.0 Review and Action Planning
This final session reviews the key points arising and encourages participants to consider what they will do next time they encounter disruptive students.