Guardian interviews with school leaders elsewhere revealed widespread concern about deteriorating behaviour among pupils, coupled with a lack of support for school policies from some parents, both issues highlighted in the Ofsted annual report last week.
“Behaviour has got worse, but what we don’t get is any support from the parents,” said one head of a secondary school in the Midlands, who did not want to be named. “They don’t want their children being sanctioned. They question more than they support.”
“In the past students were in lessons. They might be disruptive in lessons and you’d have to deal with that kind of behaviour. “But there’s a new thing coming up in schools in the last year and a half – students are turning up to school, but they don’t go into any lessons and they just wander around the building. They want to come for the social, but they don’t want to go into their lessons.
“So then I have to put a sanction in place and I’m having to suspend or put them in a removal room. But most of the time they don’t comply and the parents have no sway with the children either.”
Gosh, maybe that lockdown did some good after all, if it’s burst the ‘teacher as god’ bubble.
There are more fights between pupils and more disruption from the setting off of fire alarms.
“But for us, the biggest issue is students just refusing to follow instructions point blank.”
In some cases when a child refuses to leave a classroom, the whole of the class has to move elsewhere instead.
Well, since schools are usually fans of collective punishment, I find it rather hard to really care…after all, it’s a rod you’ve clearly made for your own backs, after all:
Glyn Potts, headteacher of Saint John Henry Newman RC College in Oldham, said suspensions had doubled at his school, from 81 days last year to 161 days this year.
“I don’t necessarily think behaviour has got worse,” said Potts. “What I would say is the level of need and the level of complexity of young people has increased exponentially.”
Unmet special needs, mental health issues and persistent post-pandemic absence are all creating tensions in schools, which can result in breaches of the behaviour code.
“In the past we had naughty boys and girls who did things that were naughty,” Potts added. “Now it’s just far more complex than that.”
Maybe it isn’t, though?