Ofsted warns on effects of bad classroom behaviour

25 Sep 14
Failure by schools to tackle poor behaviour in the classroom is costing pupils as much as an hour of teaching time each day, according to a report from education watchdog Ofsted.

By Richard Johnstone | 25 September 2014

Failure by schools to tackle poor behaviour in the classroom is costing pupils as much as an hour of teaching time each day, according to a report from education watchdog Ofsted.

The Below the radar: low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms report warned that low-level disruptive behaviour was impeding children’s learning to such an extent that it was damaging their life chances.

Publishing the analysis, chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said disruption such as pupils swinging on chairs, passing notes around and using mobile phones was preventing too many teachers from doing their jobs.

In the last year, schools educating almost 450,000 pupils have been judged as less than good for behaviour, which is far too many, he said.

‘If we are going to continue to improve our education system to compete at the highest levels, we need to tackle the casual acceptance of this behaviour that persists in too many schools. Classroom teachers must have the support of their senior leaders to tackle these problems. It isn’t rocket science.  Children need to know the rules and teachers need to know they will be supported in enforcing them.

‘That’s why Ofsted has tightened the guidance on behaviour for inspection and increased the number of unannounced inspections undertaken as a result of concerns.’

Today’s report draws on evidence from nearly 3,000 inspections of maintained schools and academies conducted this year.

According to the watchdog, a survey of teachers found two-thirds complained that school leaders were failing to assert their authority when dealing with poor discipline and pupils flouting the school rules.

Secondary school teachers identified a greater impact on learning from disruption than those in primary schools, with over two-thirds stating it was a major problem that had a medium or high impact on learning.

Inconsistent application of school behaviour policies in some schools was also a problem, with only a quarter of secondary teachers agreeing the behaviour policy in their school was applied consistently.

However, the report found the best schools were creating a positive climate for learning based on head teachers being uncompromising in their expectations. They challenged teachers, parents or pupils where this was necessary, and were visible in classrooms, school corridors and grounds and know if, and where, low-level disruption occurs.

However, responding to the report, Chris Keates the general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, said Wilshaw was ‘as usual talking nonsense to suggest that teachers accept poor behaviour from pupils or are failing to address it’.

She added: ‘Teachers need to be backed by school management, but regrettably too many school leaders have not taught for years and have lost touch with the day-to-day realities of the classroom.

‘What teachers want is resources and clear, consistent support so that valuable teaching time is not wasted getting pupils ready to learn.’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said Ofsted had revealed its ‘deeply narrow-minded’ nature.

‘Sir Michael Wilshaw, in his Clint Eastwood mode, fires indiscriminately at teachers and leaders, wounding further the morale of staff,’ she added.

‘At a time when recruitment and retention in education are approaching crisis levels, this is a particularly short-sighted and destructive approach.

‘Indeed, Ofsted’s report mentions that high staff turnover and insufficiencies in training have an impact on schools’ ability to consistently tackle challenging behaviour yet they have chosen to ignore the implications for government policy around teacher training, supply and professional development.’


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