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Behaviour in sixth form lessons

(76 Posts)
Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 08:01:16

Just a generic one really before I expose my parenting and ask for help with DS on another thread! Have teachers noticed in general that behaviour has declined amongst sixth form recently?

The last time I remember noticing this was 20 years ago when I started where I am now and was appalled by the behaviour of some boys in form time - but then , for a while students seem to become more earnest and focused.

I am long used to the age old issues of low attendance and poor punctuality and students missing deadlines and not submitting work - but definitely behaviour has declined. And I am talking real year 8 / 9 type behaviours- actual disruption! Talking over the teacher and to each other, laughing at private jokes, phone use , farting (yes really!!) , packing away early,arguing and so on. I despair.

I hear about this in both my own school and DSs, so I wondered if other had a) similar feelings about decline and b) any thoughts on why.

I shouldn't gender behaviour but it does seem largely confined to boys and , in my area at least, this was the year (year 12) of a demographic blip where there were more boys born that girls. I could blame class size , too, I suppose , but my son's class is a reasonable size. I could also blame poor teaching but - to be honest - at 16 and 17 years old one should be able to show basic respect and make life easier not harder for teachers.


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Bobbiepin Thu 23-Nov-17 08:10:29

I went on mat leave early in the year & although my year 12 boys weren't my favourite students to teach I wouldn't say their behaviour was particularly worse than usual, although it did seem to take longer to get them to follow our routines in class.

What you don't want to hear is that if your DS is behaving in this way its something you need to sort out, not just blame on the cohort. Just because everyone is doing it doesn't make it ok.

WTAFisthisshit Thu 23-Nov-17 08:12:32

Parent, not teacher but I recognise what you're describing. It even seems to be spilling over into university, beggars belief.

Not sure what's causing it, but I'm pretty sure the solution is just to kick out anyone who's got as far as 6th form without knowing how to behave and concentrate on the ones that do want to learn.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 08:21:02

Hmmmm... yes, or I suppose devil's advocate that there must be some teaching implications.

My DS is not behaving in one (as far as I know!) of his subjects.

there would have been no evidence of this attitude in year 11 in his case.... so that is a bit baffling...

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Bobbiepin Thu 23-Nov-17 08:21:48

@WTAF your solution is actually the cause of the problem. The funding crisis in schools means most can't do that and they need as many students as possible for the funding. This means taking students with below expected GCSE grades and behaviour standards.

BeyondThePage Thu 23-Nov-17 08:23:08

Mine go to a grammar 6th form. We were told at the open evening and at parent's "induction" that they are both a good school and a strict school.

Attendance/punctuality/late homework are dealt with on a "demerit" basis. Low level disruption is not tolerated and students are sent to see the head.

5 demerits and your parents are called in. Sent to see the head and your parents are called in.

Attendance is good, punctuality is good, there is very little low level disruption, and homework gets handed in on time.

It needs a whole school approach before it gets too late. Tolerating misbehaviour begets more misbehaviour.

WTAFisthisshit Thu 23-Nov-17 09:16:31

bobbie I'm well aware why they don't but schools need to be put in a position where they can. At 6th form and beyond it's unacceptable that teachers and other students are put in the position of having to deal with year 8/9 behaviour and there needs to be real world consequences for students not showing an acceptable standard of behaviour.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 09:38:11

I agree with you beyond although obviously a grammar school may be slightly easier to enforce because you are starting form the point that they are more likely to be academically up to the job...

I personally am opposed to detentions for sixth form (they misbehave in those too) and that seems to be the only support here that we get (give them a detention, goes up the cry)- and then the poor class teacher has to spend more time with the little sods!. I reckon that contact home and senior teachers with clout 'having words' are more powerful deterrents.

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Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 09:45:58

In my year 13 the boys who annoy me the most are able. They are only minorly annoying though.

Definitely in my year 12 it is the weaker two boys but I manage to keep them in line. I do think some of the teaching is weak., where the problems are worst. But what can be done? There is a recruitment crisis!

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Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 10:56:54

WTAF, I occasionally look at Academics' Corner and can't believe what I read there. I despair!

I wen to uni with some really lazy idle people but essentially they never turned up and couldn't be bothered to meet deadlines and that was their own look out. This was pre fees. No one 'misbehaved' , certainly not in lectures!

So many 'reforms' seem to have done quite the opposite.

I feel so old...

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WTAFisthisshit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:14:33

Piggy I feel old, I am in my 30's

SweetSummerchild Thu 23-Nov-17 14:00:12

I've only been teaching for a mere 15 years but I think society, as a whole, is keeping teenagers as children for longer.

Back when I was a sixth former if you failed your A levels it was generally because a) you were lazy and didn't work or b) you chose the wrong course and weren't really up to it. Either way, you were more or less an adult and were expected to get through life's little knock-backs like any adult.

Nowadays, sixth formers (especially in schools) are treated like KS4 students used to be. They have their folders checked to ensure there are dividers and notes in appropriate highlighting. If students are 'underperforming' against ALPS/ALIS targets then parents are called in for intervention meetings and there are lunchtime catch-up sessions with teachers. The head of sixth form gives the parents a nice SIMs printout showing all the late registrations and a list of missed home works.

In other words, a huge great safety net has been placed under sixth formers. Many (even most) have continued to behave as sixth-formers always have but many have taken the opportunity to stay as little children for a few more years. The problem is the immature few can completely sabotage a sixth form group for the rest of the students and the arrogance and defiance can be far worse than that seen in lower years.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 14:59:47

Absolutely . I think you have hit the nail on the head with the issue about all the micro managing. Some teachers are obsessed with it! I was saying this exact thing earlier about treating them like KS4.

I think 'children' this age can smell weakness a mile off and exploit it but also teacher panic (if they are insecure about a new spec, bullied by data, new to teaching etc) which means they want all students to learn often in the same way. For example, my DS had a meltdown about said folder check. He really can't punch holes in paper and it did genuinely make him cry. He has committed worse crimes that not having a tidy folder but it seems that is the biggest thing he has actually been picked up on by one of his teachers.

I think the Spanish teacher with her incessant fussing, complex instructions , U turns and emails and instructions and surveys about behaviour is making things worse - but I can't tell her that because I am a parent with twentyfive years experience of teaching A level

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WTAFisthisshit Thu 23-Nov-17 15:51:27

In my mind a 16 year old is an adult who if they don't want to take advantage of the privileges of an education needs to take their consequences in the real world. Who is driving this infantilisation? Is it parents or the government? Do teachers think it's become worse since you had to stay in education at 16+ ?

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 16:19:57

No, not really the link I think. we are the kind of school where they have always stayed on really. it's definitely not that that has made the difference. the return to two year A level probably has.

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Evelynismyspyname Thu 23-Nov-17 16:21:58

Back when I was at sixth form in the distant past, our history teacher opened the first lesson with the words:

"There are 26 of you here today. By the time you take your A level exams there will be at best 9 of you, and that's fine with me. Most of you are just here to keep out of the rain, and you can sit here asking as you are quiet, but a few of you will pass an A level in history."


I don't think that's allowed at 6th form these days any more than I would have been allowed to say it to a KS4 class before I left teaching a decade ago (I never taught A level).

I've now gone full circle and become an elderly college student abroad, and I must say teaching does make a huge difference. Two thirds of my classmates are aged between 19 and 25 (the rest of us are older) and the younger ones, both male and female, do chat among themselves if a teacher seems to be rambling, or is not charismatic. Interestingly they respond with rapt attention to old fashioned lecturing from someone with charisma, and to anything including group work type set ups where it is explicitly clear what the "point" of the lesson is. We have teachers with a wide range of backgrounds though and the respect they receive is shockingly varied. During our psychiatry lessons from a nice academic psychologist in a cardigan who has no teaching background but knows her subject inside out I find myself completely inappropriately giving the giggly young women who sit near me a teacher look (which works) most lessons at the inevitable point when their whispered conversation and giggling stops me hearing the lesson blush . To be fair we could be thrown off the course, but in fact apparently this only happens for failing to meet minimum grades in the ongoing exams or dropping below 80% attendance, not directly for behaviour!

It's a mixture of factors I expect - poor teaching and infantilising of over 16s, and not being able to throw out anyone only there to keep out of the rain if they become disruptive... Even motivated and generally fairly hard working young people can be ruthless when they don't think the teacher / lesson is directly relevant to the aim of passing the exam though!

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 16:25:52

It is a sad state of affairs.

My colleagues at my school are decent teachers (one of them is very inexperienced but works very hard and the other one is considered an excellent teacher) and they are finding a cluster of boys really hard to manage so it does seem the attitudes of some of these young men are awful regardless of teaching.

I do wonder (I know this isn't v fashionable on MN) whether there is an element of age old disrespect to women in any form...

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DustyMaiden Thu 23-Nov-17 16:28:52

6th form is up to a point less of a choice, as school leaving age is 18. I think this had some bearing.

WTAFisthisshit Thu 23-Nov-17 16:43:00

Piggy the boys I saw misbehave during years 10/11/12/13 definitely had a total lack of respect for woman. OTOH they also misbehaved for male teachers as did some of the girls, so I think just a lack of respect in general. From a parents POV if a students misbehaving in one class it's probably a problem with the teacher, if they're misbehaving in multiple classes it's them and they need removing it's totally unfair on teachers and the other students to be trapped in that type of environment. If it's a group behaviour problem then the ringleaders need removing first to see if they settle down. I support no exclusions at primary and secondary but if behaviour problems are not dealt with in 6th form or beyond, by permenant removal, because of either policy or funding that's just plain wrong.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 16:45:14

They can leave school actually so long as they stay in training, education or employment.

But, as I said , at my school these aren't kids who would have gone elsewhere a few years back. The demographic hasn't changed and the numbers are higher because the school PAN changed. the sixth form itself is much larger than it was 15 years ago, but not larger than it was 5 - 10 years ago. Class sizes have changed in a lot of subjects, though , and that has probably had an impact. It is another thing that leads to them being taught like they are year 11.

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Kazzyhoward Thu 23-Nov-17 17:14:53

It's certainly not just sixth form either. I've taught accountancy as part time adult education at our local college with students being a mix of school leavers (18+)/employed trainee accountants and adults looking for career changes. The behaviour of the younger end of the class was appalling and embarrassing. Considering these had gone through sixth form as A levels were required as minimum entry requirements, it was pretty shocking. Constant low level disruption, constant talking, etc., then not doing homework assignments nor revision for tests/exams etc. A real contrast to the older students who listened and did the work. I was genuinely shocked at their attitude and lack of interest from the younger ones. It was a massive contrast from when I did my accountancy training at similar colleges 30 years ago when I was the A level school leaver - in those days, we sat and listened and did the work we were sat, with no disruption etc. I don't think " young adults" know how to behave anymore.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 17:18:27

I didn't mean for this thread to be so dispiriting...

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Branleuse Thu 23-Nov-17 17:41:39

When I was at 6th form, it was just brilliant to be surrounded by people who actually WANTED to be there. It was actually possible to learn in that environment.

Forcing kids to continue in education till 18, is bound to have the unwanted effect of meaning you have two years of a forced school environment with uninterested teenagers.

Piggywaspushed Thu 23-Nov-17 17:49:27

Yes, but as I do keep saying this is not the factor at work at my school or DSs where they have always tended to stay on.

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RenaissanceBunny Thu 23-Nov-17 18:04:22

I teach at a uni and the behaviour of some of my first year students is ... disappointing. Looking at phones, turning up late (today's record was 30 mins with not even an I'm sorry), talking to each other while I'm talking, and consistently and completely failing to do the required preparation every week. I'm now at the point where if they aren't disturbing others then I just don't care.

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