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Last Updated: Monday, 2 April 2007, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Teachers 'bovvered by wha'ever'
By Sean Coughlan
BBC News, at the ATL conference

group of teenagers
The report said children acted as if swearing was normal
"Wha'ever" and "Am I bovvered?" are the television catchphrases most likely to be deployed by classroom comedians.

A survey for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers teachers' union found these two truculent teenage war cries were the most repeated by pupils.

Teachers warned that watching too much television taught children "poor social habits" and excessive swearing on TV made them believe it was "normal".

But the annual conference also heard of positive influences from programmes.


The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, meeting in Bournemouth, has highlighted both the negative and positive impacts of television culture.

A survey of 400 teachers found that the "Wha'ever" and "Am I bovvered?" phrases, from the Catherine Tate Show, were the most used in the classroom - ahead of catchphrases from the Simpsons and Little Britain.

The sulky adolescent retort of "Am I bovvered?" was recently demonstrated by the Prime Minister Tony Blair, in a comedy sketch recorded for Comic Relief.

Teachers were concerned that copying the language and attitude of television characters could have a damaging impact on classroom behaviour.

In particular, swearing has become so frequent on television that "children use swearing in everyday language as if it is normal," said the teachers' union.

Big Brother

And teachers warned that "aggressive and confrontational behaviour" in schools was being influenced by television programmes.

There was also a problem with pupils' arriving at school too exhausted to study after staying up too late to watch television, often unsupervised.

There were also concerns about the suitability of programmes watched by many children after the watershed.

But television could also have a positive impact, the survey suggested.

Teachers used the example of how the story of Jade Goody and Big Brother had provided an "excellent vehicle for debate" and helped young people to talk about current affairs.

The survey of media awareness also found that teachers believe that Britney Spears and Bob Geldof would be more recognisable to school pupils than Prince Charles and Tony Blair.

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