“No pupil has the right to spoil the learning of others” expert reaction to Ofsted report on low level behaviour in the classroom

Ofsted are warning school leaders are ignoring low level disruption in the classroom and as a result this is costing an hour of pupil’s learning time each dayThe report identifies the failure  of school leaders in tackling poor behaviour is costing pupils up to an hour of learning each day.

Professor Terry Haydn of the University of East Anglia, who has devised a ten point scale of disruptive behaviour levels in a classroom for teachers, comments on news reports of Ofsted’s report into low level disruption:

“My research over the past decade suggests even the figure of 8% ‘unsatisfactory’ understates the proportion of schools where the behaviour of some pupils at times interferes with the learning of others.

We need to work hard with pupils and their parents to establish the principle no pupil has the right to spoil the learning of others, and to devise systems which stop this happening, without simply ‘decanting’ problem pupils to other schools which already have more than their share of difficult pupils.

Suggestions the problem of poor behaviour is a fairly simple issue to sort out, or that any deficit in classroom climate is a result of teachers who ‘just can’t be bothered’ are unhelpful.

This is not an aspect of school life which is straightforward or susceptible to simple solutions or quick fixes. The reality is that schools and teachers will always have to work hard, and with considerable initiative and ingenuity, to eliminate the problem of disruptive behaviour and deficits in classroom climate.

Teachers need to develop a range of complex and sophisticated skills in order to achieve and sustain these outcomes with the most challenging teaching groups. And although the teaching and management skills of the classroom teacher are amongst the most influential factors influencing classroom climate other factors influence the working atmosphere in the classroom, including ‘out of school’ ones, such as pupil intake, levels of parental support, and the culture surrounding attitudes to school and education.

Part of the answer is working to improve parental support for schools and teachers, and the provision of high quality nursery education so that children are well socialised when they start primary school.”

Note to journalists: A summary of the research on classroom climate and pupil behaviour can be accessed at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rev3.3025/full

Dr Anna Sullivan, Senior Lecturer , University South Australia and expert in managing pupil behaviour:

“Similar to the Ofsted findings, our research in Australia shows that low-level disruption is a significant issue in schools.

Our research shows that disengaged behaviours are the most prevalent unproductive behaviours and teachers find them difficult to manage.

We found that when teachers use punitive approaches to respond to disengaged and disruptive student behaviour they do not address the underlying causes. For example, if students are disengaged, punitive approaches may not facilitate engagement.

“Cracking down on bad behaviour” misses the mark. Our research shows that schools support productive behaviour when they focus on pupil engagement, treating pupils well and setting clear values. That is they focus on prevention rather than intervention.”


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