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Is behaviour getting worse?

October 4, 2010

Poor pupil behaviour drives 70 per cent of teachers to consider quitting !

There’s a new survey out today from Parentline Plus that suggests that 70% of teachers consider quitting because of stress over children’s behaviour in school.

As a former Deputy Head and class teacher for over 22 years I am greatly saddened, but not surprised, by this new report. I have often written about the decline of children’s behaviour in some schools in certain areas as I now go into many different schools teaching my “Beat Bullying – Confidence Classes for Kids” Workshops and have seen low morale in some inner city schools. But then I have also gone into schools in difficult areas and have had a wonderful day with up beat teachers, happy,  well disciplined, learning pupils and met lots of highly motivated staff and therefore highly motivated kids. It comes from high aspirations of parents, good discipline and high expectations from home working in partnership with the high aspirations of the  school.

The 2010 Behaviour Survey, conducted by the Teacher Support Network (TSN), Parentline Plus and the National Union of Teachers (NUT), also found that 92 per cent of teachers believe that pupil behaviour has got worse over the course of their career.

Julian Stanley, TSN chief executive, claimed that more teachers have been approaching his organisation for support with pupil behaviour issues over the past year.

“We are not saying that behaviour is an issue in every classroom, in every school, but we are concerned that poor behaviour is leading some great teachers to leave the profession,” he explained. “Parents and teachers need to work together to create safe, respectful school communities, where teachers, and by extension their children, can reach their full potential.”

The survey, which will be the focus of a Conservative Party conference fringe event with schools minister Nick Gibb MP, also revealed that teachers are in favour of extending disciplinary powers for teachers, as set out by the government in July this year. But 81 per cent of respondents admitted that they had never used existing search powers.

A further 95 per cent of teachers said that parents should be given guidance about their responsibilities to support school behaviour policies to improve pupil behaviour in the future.

Jeremy Todd, chief executive of Parentline Plus, argued that many parents find the school environment intimidating, since it can remind them of their own unpleasant school experiences.

“It is vital that schools work with parents to engage them and ensure they understand their important role in their child’s education, including reinforcing the school’s messages about acceptable behaviour,” he said.

“Simple techniques and confidence building in parents whose children are not able to behave in class can be very effective and enable children to stay in the classroom and behave, preventing them from permanent exclusion.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the NUT, added: “Teachers see the sharing of best practice across schools both locally and nationally as being the best way forward to deal with pupil behaviour issues. The introduction of the academies and free schools programme could see much of this valuable work jeopardised. Central specialist services play a valuable role in providing both support and training for teachers. Government spending cuts threaten the existence of such teams.”

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About the author

Sue Atkins is a Parenting Expert who offers practical guidance for bringing up happy, confident, well behaved children. She is also the author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” one in the  famous black and yellow series published worldwide and the highly acclaimed Parenting Made Easy CDs. She regularly appears on BBC Breakfast and The Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 and her parenting articles are published all over the world.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 4, 2010 6:32 pm

    It is a sad commentry on our society I think that behaviour does not seem to be getting any better. Schools spend a great deal of time working on policies, guidelines & strategies. They also use curriculum time within PSHE to work with pupils to get a shared understanding of what is acceptable. Despite all this, it is still not improving & from your post, actually going back wards. I might explore why on my blog – the Head’s Office ( )

    • October 4, 2010 7:48 pm

      I used to be Head of the PSHE Dept in my school and yes some schools do work extremely hard on making sure PSHE is taught regularly but I also know in others it can be allowed to slip as the pressure mounts to “catch up” on coursework or finish off unfinished class work ! Some teachers feel a bit apprehensive about teaching some areas ….. as “Waterloo Road” on TV proved last week !!

      But I think great parenting has a lot to do with it too – respecting teachers, each other and being tolerant, well mannered and polite right from an early age. It’s a question of values, and schools and homes working together with high aspirations to respect each other.

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