Page last updated at 15:10 GMT, Tuesday, 14 April 2009 16:10 UK

Bad behaviour 'wastes five weeks'

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education reporter, at the Nasuwt conference

Fighting boys
Teachers said 'significant' amounts of time were being lost

More than five whole weeks of secondary school are wasted each year because of bad behaviour, a survey from a teaching union suggests.

The finding comes from a survey of more than 10,000 staff across the UK carried out by the Nasuwt teachers' union.

The survey calculated how much total lesson time was being lost because of pupil disruption.

Government behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer is due to deliver his review on behaviour in schools in England.

The Nasuwt teachers' union, meeting for its annual conference in Bournemouth, surveyed its members last month and found "significant amounts of teaching time are lost every day as a result of disruptive or poor behaviour by pupils".

Much of this disruption is low-level annoyance - such as arguments between pupils, a refusal to pay attention or being unready to start a lesson.


The survey found that on average, secondary school teachers lose 50 minutes each day because of pupil misconduct.

But for a fifth of these teachers there is an even greater problem, with 75 minutes being lost, the responses suggest.

And for a tenth of teachers, there were two hours of teaching time wasted each day because of pupil disruption.

There were also problems with behaviour in primary school, with an estimated 16 full days lost each year because of misconduct.

The average primary teacher reported losing 30 minutes of teaching time each day.

There was also evidence that teachers did not feel they had sufficient help, with 61% saying they did not have confidence that they would receive "swift support" with tackling disruptive pupils.

The Nasuwt conference will debate a motion calling for "urgent action" to tackle poor classroom behaviour. Teachers will hear claims that efforts to improve pupil behaviour have been "ineffective".

The children's secretary Ed Balls will respond to the recommendations of Sir Alan's report in a speech at the conference on Wednesday.

But he has said that it is "unacceptable" for a pupil to disrupt the learning and teaching of an entire class.

"Pupils need to know that when certain boundaries are crossed they will have to bear the consequences," he has said.

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