Poor student behaviour is forcing teachers out of the profession

‘Low level disruption’ is no trivial matter, argues Joanna Williams in Teachwire – and it’s time schools woke up to the need for a better managed approach to discipline.

The retention crisis has been blamed on excessive workload and an ‘audit culture’ that generates layers of bureaucracy, uncompetitive salaries, a lack of clear paths for career progression and poor job satisfaction.

Now, as Head of Education at Policy Exchange, I am pleased to shine a light on another reason teachers are leaving the classroom: having to deal with persistent disruptive behaviour. In the words of one teacher we interviewed: “It just grinds you down.” This phrase became the title of our report because it best sums up the frustration of dealing with constant bad behaviour while trying to teach.

A pupil talking over you is annoying but when, as for 20% of our respondents, it happens every single lesson, it becomes infuriating. The same proportion of teachers told us they have to confront pupils for not doing the work set every lesson. 17% had pupils chewing gum in each class they taught, 15% said they had to deal with pupils using a mobile in every lesson.

The cumulative impact of dealing with such frequent disruption is demoralising and exhausting. It distracts from teaching and interrupts learning. Sadly, it’s unsurprising that 62% of the teachers we polled said that they are currently, or have previously, considered leaving the profession because of poor pupil behaviour.

For some teachers, dealing with disorder has become the main focus of their job. One teacher told us she had recently moved from a school where her workload, “was just focused on making sure that the kids behave” and that, “the negativity of that whole environment took so much of a toll on you.” Others echoed the feeling of exhaustion: “It just grinds you down. You feel your energy sapping.”

For some teachers, dealing with disorder has become the main focus of their job. One teacher told us she had recently moved from a school where her workload, “was just focused on making sure that the kids behave” and that, “the negativity of that whole environment took so much of a toll on you.” Others echoed the feeling of exhaustion: “It just grinds you down. You feel your energy sapping.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly then, 72% of the teachers we polled claimed to know of former colleagues who had abandoned the classroom because of poor pupil behaviour. Worryingly, the perception of unruliness and indiscipline may be preventing people who might otherwise be good teachers from applying in the first place.

Read the full article Poor student behaviour is forcing teachers out of the profession

Any ideas? Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin

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Categories: Further Education, Learning, Parenting, Primary, Secondary, Teaching and Uncategorized.

Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Of course pupil behaviour will, in some cases, be poor. More and more head teachers are being sucked into chasing mindless, unsuitable league tables. The testing regime is one which is labelling young children as failures from very early on and too often Ofsted do not see past the paperwork. It seems also true that, as teachers are increasingly having to produced detailed lesson plans purely for non teaching managers, the teachers are being critically judged, rather than supported – possibly because many senior staff are not capable of giving educational support.

    When those who make the judgements have the skills to look at a wide variety of teaching styles and progress made by pupils, rather than scores, more pupils may feel that the curriculum suits them and behaviour will improve.

  2. Anonymous

    Maybe Policy Exchange should poll representative samples of teachers rather than using its usual ‘Contact us about discipline at school’ and then pretending worthwhile.

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