Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Teachers 'worn out' by bad behaviour

On Tue 25 March 2008 Jessica Shepherd wrote in the Education Guardian and described how teachers are becoming worn out by bad behaviour! In her article she wrote: -

Speaking at the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers' annual conference in Birmingham, general secretary Chris Keates said pupils were no longer frightened to abuse their teachers publicly on the street.

Keates said she had recently heard from teachers who had been followed home, harassed by email, and verbally abused in the street, and about pupils who camped outside teachers' homes shouting abuse.

"We have always had a steady stream of pupils who abuse teachers, but now pupils feel confident enough to do this in public," she said. "This shows the youth culture out on today's street."

Teachers told the conference how they were being worn out by bad behaviour.

Tim Cox, a member of the union's executive, said: "It's the 'tap tap' on the desk, the swinging back and forth of chairs, the wearing of hoodies, sunglasses, the mobile phones that wears us down.

"We all know the negative impact this can have on pupils, but we don't always know how best to deal with it. Things can escalate all too easily into major offences."

He said the only training in pupil misbehaviour that some new teachers received was from unions, not their schools.

"It's a sad fact that training is not provided by schools," he said. Unions, he said, were left to fill the gap.

Suzanne Nantcurvis, also on the union's national executive, said the problem of the high number of teachers leaving the profession would be solved if more attention was given to training teachers in how to deal with naughty pupils.

She said there was 'clear evidence' to suggest training courses on pupil misbehaviour worked, but that the emphasis placed on this in schools was poor.

"Given that school improvement is top of the agenda, I find it bizarre that this is the case," she said. "All teachers need the training to manage the increasingly challenging behaviour we see."

Sue Rogers, on the national executive, said: "This is the key to raising standards. Any attempt by the government to raise standards is going to come crashing down if you don't have good behaviour."

She described how she could 'smell the mood' of a classroom as she walked in. And how she had taught herself to deal with poor behaviour by "conning herself".

"I've thought I'll not let them see I have a cold because it's a sign of weakness. But I got to the point with one class that I so disliked going in, I told myself that I really enjoyed teaching them and eventually I conned myself that they were my favourite class. Things improved for me and for them. We know teaching is something of a con job."

Keates said schools were in part to blame for not using the powers to discipline their pupils that they had been given.

Schools now have the power to temporarily exclude pupils and discipline them off the school grounds.

Teachers voted to lobby government to improve the quality of training for new teachers across the UK and increase the number of training courses on pupil behaviour. Article Ends.

Sadly, this type of situation is not only seen in our schools. It is very much a reflection of behaviour and standards in our wider society including that demonstrated by a growing number of adults, the very people who should be the role models for our young people.

The outcomes can be seen on our streets with anti-social behaviour, much of which can result in similar outcomes in our prisons and young offender institutions. Regrettably, in order to address such behaviour society still tends to focus upon the use of punishment, failing to recognise that there is always an underlying cause and it is the cause that needs to be addressed - "Tough on Crime" "Tough on the causes of Crime". Until we understand this and provide our teachers and others with the skills and understanding to deal with such issues, little will change. The call for increased quality training for teachers is something that must also be delivered in many other sectors and the wider society. It is to be hoped that this call will be heard and implemented without simply resorting to yet more punishment as the sole means of meeting the requirement.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Excluding violent young people does not help to reduce offending and anti-social behaviour

In Monday's Times another striking article described the level of anti-social and challenging behaviour taking place in our schools and cities, with the consequential stress and fears experienced by nearly a third of our teachers. Most teachers apparently said that pupil behaviour had worsened. Critically, there is increasing evidence to show that many of these young people go on to commit higher levels of anti-social behaviour, substance misuse and serious crime.

Regrettably, little recognition is given to the fact that within many groups of society the way the adult population chooses to engage with children and young people is often the root cause of the problem. Rather than recognising that social deprivation and family dysfunction is often at the centre of such behaviour, punishment and retribution are still promoted as the means of addressing it. Until adults and the wider society recognises its own fundamental failings and weaknesses, the situation will undoubtedly worsen. To reduce offending and re-offending we must provide young people with the standards, role models, respect, support and encouragment to change and behave differently. The feelings, thoughts and behaviour expressed and demonstrated by many young people is a direct reflection of what they see and believe as being normal and acceptable. If we expect our young people to change, we must surely be willing to change ourselves.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Reducing Re-offending Survey - Alternatives to Prison

Whilst acknowledging that the survey on this blog was not scientifically designed, it was available for anybody to participate in. Importantly, the results clearly show little enthusiasm for the building of more prisons. To be applauded is the recognition for the need to improve the training of staff working with offenders as well as an overall increase in mentor support to and for offender learning.

Of note - only 8% of those who participated recommended building more prisons.