Page last updated at 12:05 GMT, Thursday, 27 March 2008

Teachers 'stressed by behaviour'

By Angela Harrison
BBC News at the NASUWT comference in Birmingham

Teenage boys
Teachers also warn that some pupils are being given too much say

Bad behaviour from pupils is the biggest cause of stress for teachers and the main reason for poor standards, a teaching union has said.

Teachers at the NASUWT conference complained that some school leaders were not dealing with the problem.

Delegates passed a motion at the Birmingham meeting listing many factors contributing to the problem, including councils' drives to cut exclusions.

Teachers also complained about a lack of training in behaviour management.

ADHD is being used as a reason not to give a student an exclusion
Susan Jones
Derbyshire delegate

Susan Jones, from Derbyshire, told delegates local authorities were nowhere to be seen when a child was disrupting a class, but stepped in fast if a school tried to exclude one.

She complained about the use of "managed moves" where a child is transferred to another school rather than being excluded.

It is a policy advocated by the government's behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer as a way of giving a child a fresh start without them reaching the crisis of expulsion.

Ms Jones said councils liked this approach too because it helped to reduce exclusions.

But she knew of a case where one child had been moved several times and eventually came back to the original school.

And she said some schools were lowering their standards for acceptable behaviour for children with special needs.


"ADHD is being used as a reason not to give a student an exclusion," she told delegates.

"Excuses are being made all the time for the behaviour of some students. They are being given a free reign."

Teachers at the conference are also critical of the way moves to give pupils a say in their school lives are being handled in some places.

Jake Cosford, from Derby, told the conference about a job interview he had been to a school in Sheffield some years ago.

The child who was his guide through the school showed him a corridor down which teachers were not allowed to go, he said.

"I was then interviewed by a panel of three students with no adults present. At the end I was asked what I would give them if they gave me the job."

He then withdrew from the process, he said.

The union's leaders say they support the policy of pupil involvement, known as "Student Voice", but believe it is being taken to extremes in some cases.

'Not practical'

NASUWT delegates also discussed behaviour at their conference on Tuesday. Many feel that persistent "low-level disruption" is the worst problem.

Tim Cox, from the union's national executive, said: "It's the tap tap of the pen on the desk, the swinging on the back of chairs, the inability to comply with the simplest request, the mobile phones that wear us down.

"We all know the negative impact this can have on teachers and pupils."

Mr Cox complained about the quality of training in behaviour management available for teachers and trainees.

The union's general secretary Chris Keates said: "It's the quality of training provided that we are concerned about."

The Training and Development Agency for Schools, which is responsible for teacher training a survey of teachers in 2007said the majority found their training was good or very good in helping them maintain behaviour in classroom. "Nonetheless, behaviour continues to be a high priority for us and we are supporting initiatives such as Behaviour4Learning to help ensure that new teachers are well prepared to establish and maintain standards of behaviour in the classroom," a spokesperson added.

At the conference on Wednesday, Schools Secretary Ed Balls paid tribute to teachers' work in this area.

"As teachers on the front line, you face continual challenges in maintaining good standards of pupil behaviour - both in dealing with general low level disruption and with the minority of badly behaved pupils," he said.

Mr Balls announced several measures aimed at improving behaviour and discipline, including more parent support advisors in schools and legal changes to make all schools take their share of excluded pupils.

Teachers warn of spoilt children
25 Mar 08 |  Education
Changes ahead for excluded pupils
26 Mar 08 |  Education

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