Schools must crack down on naughty behaviour

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw has claimed that minor disruption and inattention in class are tolerated in too many schools, acting as a barrier to learning.

Launching Ofsted’s annual report, Sir Michael warned of ‘a culture of casual acceptance of low-level disruption and poor attitudes to learning’, the BBC reports.

He claimed that ‘a poverty of expectation’ is also preventing England’s schools moving up international league tables and that children’s outcomes depend on where they live. “We’re saying very clearly in this report that poverty is not a predictor for failure, that we’ve got lots of poor children now – more than ever before – doing well in our schools,” Sir Michael said.””What we are seeing though is that the country is divided between lucky and unlucky children. We’re seeing children that happen to be born in the right postcode who are fortunate children because they go to good schools with head teachers and teachers with high expectations of them. But we’re also seeing unlucky children with the same sort of background, who are born in the wrong area, live in the wrong place, go to the wrong sort of school where there’s poor leadership, with head teachers and teachers with low expectations of what they can achieve.”

Sir Michael called on school leaders to create a calm and respectful culture in schools. But ATL’s Dr. Mary Bousted criticised his ‘combative’ approach: “The lessons from this country and from abroad are clear – treating teachers with professional respect and fostering a climate for school-led collaboration is what helps children learn,” she said. “Ofsted, however, is severely inconsistent in the quality of its inspections, which leaves it undermined and seriously out of touch. Its combative words do more harm than good.”

Ofsted now rates a record eight in 10 state schools as good or outstanding. One of the areas it praises is Tower Hamlets in east London, and its head of secondary learning and achievement, Di Warn, emphasised the importance of high aspirations: “One of the biggest things has been our focus on monitoring and tracking the progress of young people and we do that really rigorously,” she said. “I suppose what I would say to them [regions that are struggling] is to raise your aspirations and make your aspirations for your young people really clear and that poverty is no barrier to success and I think that is what London has proved more than anything.”

Is minor disruption and inattention in your classroom damaging pupils’ learning? Is Sir Michael right to call on school leaders to improve the situation?

7 thoughts on “Schools must crack down on naughty behaviour

  1. Minor disruptions and inattention does damage pupils’ learning and teachers know this. They tackle it every day in a number of ways including talking to pupils, parents, setting high standard and not accepting anything but the best their pupils can achieve, planning engaging and inspiring lessons and doing their best to minimise any disruptions or inattention. Yet despite all the teachers best efforts some children come to school ill prepared to pay attention and some come to school also with the deliberate intent on disrupting when they can. Sleep deprivation, lack of nutrition and a family wide hostile attitude to education means that some children find it extremely difficult to pay attention or have the right attitude to enable them to learn. Somewhere there must be acknowledgement that parents do have a vital influence on how their children learn at school and there needs to be more done to help schools engage not just the children but the parents in the learning process.

  2. What would sir Michael suggest teachers do? A pupil at my school has been disrupting classes for the entire four years he has attended and has been through every level of sanction available, yet the school was unable to remove him. This one child has disrupted numerous pupils learning and damaged the whole schools attitude to learning as other pupils see that in fact teachers can actually do very little to punish them. We can only demand so much of teachers without giving them more tools to do the job. As for East London schools being outstanding, tracking and keeping records as per Ofsted criteria does not make a good education.

  3. I sympathise with Mark but the school is not “unable to remove him”. Just like with poor teachers it requires effort, persistence and following procedures. On another point of his an outstanding school cannot be outstanding, under current criteria, if lessons and teaching are not outstanding.
    I think more needs to be done in training young teachers in techniques to maintain good discipline and schools themselves need to have set standards; when I taught KS3/KS4 students I always sat them boy/girl and left my classroom neat and tidy but not all teachers did this.

  4. As an LSA in an infants school, my role has changed substantially in recent years. I have some very disruptive children in my class, but our hands are tied as to how we can discipline them. One child in particular is a runner who tries her hardest to escape – I can prevent this to keep her safe, but have been told that to say “no” to her is to be avoided as it is a major trigger for bad behaviour…! So, consequently, she runs off and is then asked to sit quietly in the book corner, which is a reward as this is exactly what she wanted in the first place! I spend so much time making observational notes on the learning achieved in class that I miss seeing whether the children (all 4 years old) are actually having fun! Yes, little Jimmy might have made a scientific/mathematical/problem-solving observation in the sand pit but he was actually just enjoying feeling the different textures of wet and dry sand in his fingers! A large part of my role is to develop the learning of the less able and free school meals children, as well as encouraging more from the few potentially gifted and talented children at the top end: that leaves the large majority of the children who are performing at an age-appropriate rate with less learning opportunities, which seems grossly unfair! I miss playing with the children without taking copious notes; reading them silly, pointless stories to make them laugh; letting them run and let off steam outside without having a reason behind their every move; and singing and dancing when it’s not on the lesson plan just because we can. In fact, I miss letting them be the children they are – babies, only just 4 and not mini-robots!

  5. Our pupils are the outcome of their parents expectations, behaviour and moral values.Due to the current economic crisis in Portugal, there are pupils that come to school poorly fed, some without having breakfast, some from disrupted families, others with one or two parents unemployed. We, teachers, what can we expect from these pupils with no expectactions, no future and no goals. We have to play the role of their parents, family, friends, otherwise the children and young people will get lost in the process. Of course, we need to be patient, persistant, but strict without being unfair. We need to make them feel that if they do their best they can be successful.l

  6. Who doesn’t have high or extremely high expectations for themselves and their students? Some schools remove disrupting student[s] from class, some just concentrate on their “bright” students by “selection”, what we can’t seem to accept is that many students are completely turned off by following printed textbooks and then answering questions on subjects that do not interest them in the slightest!!

    Many schools are trapped into traditional ways of teaching with many hours “lost” by still having to produce work using colouring pencils!! How can they get any design/layout satisfaction when each step is a painful one with teacher not being able to have meaningful influence over progression. If you can’t draw then your work is poor thereby highlighting contantly the feeling of inadequacy. For me it is little wonder that they are not inspired or stimulated when THEIR world is 90% dominated by electronics in one form or another. Put a disinterested student into a highly creative ICT class with a go-ahead tutor and just see the difference in behaviour, not overnight, but giving students’ the power to create is a vital step in the right direction.

  7. I think this is the age old question of discipline v freedom.
    And if you choose either way, how far do you go down that road?
    When the Ofsted Chief talks about ‘outcomes’ what does he mean?
    That schools are highly graded in a system designed to reward good exam results; that students who decide to fit in as well as they can are praised and rewarded under the same umbrella of criteria?

    Or, that individual students work out for themselves what education means to them and how they can use it (or abuse it) to get a good ‘outcome’.

    Teachers and students are not so obediently docile to follow the lead on this.
    I have seen this problem since the 1990s when Ofsted first sent its inspectors into education establishments to try and systemize what is basically a dynamic and ever changing organism: a school. But as I said there is nothing new about this dilemma

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