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Deteriorating behaviour and lack of support bringing the profession to its knees
82

noblegiraffe · 02/06/2019 10:43

“The proportion of teachers reporting difficulty in managing pupil behaviour has increased “significantly” since last year, according to new research.

More than four in 10 teachers now say they are struggling to cope with poor behaviour.

Many teachers say they are not being adequately supported by their senior leadership teams with behaviour management, according to the research by the Education Support Partnership – a charity that supports teachers with poor mental health.”

www.tes.com/news/exclusive-four-10-teachers-struggle-behaviour

I would call this the ‘Paul Dix effect’.

The backlash in the press and from parents about exclusions, isolation and any attempts to discipline that are more than a ‘restorative conversation’ is damaging.

But Dix’s assertion that asking for support with behaviour management diminishes your authority in the classroom has enabled swathes of lazy-arsed SLT to simply throw back any complaints about poor behaviour to the teacher, without any effective tools to deal with it.

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herculepoirot2 · 02/06/2019 12:24

I left teaching for this reason. I am not there for crowd control or to be abused, but I am able to follow a sensible policy when a child oversteps a line. What I am absolutely not prepared to do is to have the sanctions I give students - in line with our policy - questioned, overturned or not escalated when necessary by SLT. It’s not conducive to learning, is a waste of my time and makes me miserable.

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OneOfTheGrundys · 02/06/2019 12:49

There are ‘consultants’ making ££££s off the back of it too. We just had 2 in our place, getting us ‘ofsted ready’. I was lucky-observed with a settled class. My colleagues not so much. Advised by the ‘consultant’ (sacked former deputy head of failing primary academy chain) that her lessons weren’t engaging enough for the behaviour to be managed. More ‘kinaesthetic’ activities needed. This was a year 11 exam class. Colleague’s now on capability for not engaging with the ‘support package’.
You can probably tell from the number of inverted commas in this post how much I respected this particular ‘expert’.
So damaging.

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 14:21

I’m noticing secondary positions in my area being advertised again and again in TES. The ones that are filled are with newly qualified teachers (according to my sources!) who may not last the distance. Seriously starting to wonder who will teach my own children when they get to secondary. Very worrying.

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Jayblue · 02/06/2019 14:45

I know a lot of people on my PGCE were quite against RTL style behaviour systems at the start of the year, but those who've gone into schools with this sort of system often really like them.

This year I have definitely seen the contrast between schools with consistently applied behaviour systems with SLT back up and schools without this! Having a robust consistent behaviour policy was one of my top priorities when looking for jobs, too.

I think unless you are in schools these days it's hard to imagine how some students behave - I think a lot of parents would be totally shocked!

I also think the "engaging" lessons thing is very complicated - with a class I can trust, I can do fun engaging lessons that students enjoy and obviously they are more "on task" in these lessons.

With a class I can't trust these lessons just don't work! And in science it often becomes a safety issue too.

It's very interesting there has been such a sharp increase in one year, though.

I'm also pretty sure that all of the science trainees I know have jobs for September too, so I would guess there will be unfilled vacancies in September as a lot of schools are still advertising. Tbf, although I know a lot of NQTs don't finish their first year (and shouldn't we be asking why?) in my current placement school it's a newly recruited but experienced teacher who left part way through the year due to behaviour.

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noblegiraffe · 02/06/2019 14:51

An awful lot of conversations about recruitment and retention, and decreasing teacher workload, but lots of schools jumping on the ‘restorative conversation’ bandwagon without a single thought given to the teacher workload that this creates.

And if a discipline system relies on increasing teacher workload, then it is doomed to fail, and quite quickly too.

The insidious thing about this behaviour approach is that the blame falls on the teacher who is struggling with poor behaviour (thus also discouraging them from raising the issue), not the stupid shortsighted SLT who introduced the system.

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BelleSausage · 02/06/2019 14:58

I think this a parental problem too. Twice this year I have had meetings with parents about my ‘teaching’. What it was actually about was that I had given their child negative behaviour points for disruptive behaviour. Parents are often too quick to think the worst of teachers and lack of back up at home is deadly to the ability to manage students properly.

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noblegiraffe · 02/06/2019 16:40

I’ve seen more of that this year too, Belle, arsey parents complaining that the issue is me. A quick scan of their kids’ behaviour record on SIMs reveals that the issue is, in fact, the kid. Not sure how parents think we won’t notice.

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themimi · 02/06/2019 16:58

In my experience, behaviour is only good when I invest in individual relationships with children. Time consuming at start but pays long term dividends. If they muck up, SLT should support but ultimately the relationship needs to be rebuilt. Have the fall out, ask for help for child to be removed but then go and find the child at another time and have a conversation. (Just my opinion here based on 15 years experience).

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noblegiraffe · 02/06/2019 17:03

go and find the child at another time and have a conversation.

That there, that’s the bit where it all falls apart.

  1. the assumption that teachers have time to be chasing around the school picking up kids for a conversation (because they aren’t turning up for a detention)

  2. the assumption that there are few enough kids pissing around for this to be practical

  3. the assumption that the kid will start behaving after the conversation.

    IME (14 years) these three things are not true often enough for it to be a reliable system.
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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 17:07

The wisdom and perspective of the teachers in this forum is incredibly helpful. I have a much better understanding of what’s going wrong in teaching from this forum than any other source. Thank you Smile

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CuckooCuckooClock · 02/06/2019 17:13

Yy noble when am I supposed to chase up all these disruptive students?
Some days I have to give 30 students comments for behaviour. How would I catch up with each of them to have a restorative conversation?

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 17:17

@themimi this idea about relationships is certainly true in the lovely school I work on a flexible basis. Because the kids are on the whole polite and decent, parents are supportive and there are only a few issues to be pursued.
HOWEVER if half of Year 10 boys are chucking books about, squirting frubes up the wall and making whipping noises if told off by a female teacher (while parents claim that the female teacher isn’t helping their son to learn) then relationship building isn’t going to go a long way.

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 17:18

Sort of a cross post with cuckoo!

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CuckooCuckooClock · 02/06/2019 17:19

The issue imo is that there are far too many children who have grown up with very little effective parenting with regards to behaviour and discipline.
Some of the complaints I get from parents are totally ridiculous. Parents who think it’s unreasonable for me to ask their children to work in silence for 10 minutes. As if talking to their mates throughout my lesson is a human right. When challenged these kids tell me that I’m pathetic then their mum complains and the detention, or whatever sanction I’ve issued in-line with the policy, is cancelled.
Argh - really dreading going back tomorrow!

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Jayblue · 02/06/2019 17:29

The "restorative conversation at another time" thing was suggested as part of the new behaviour policy at one of my placement schools. As well as all the valid points that @noblegiraffe has brought up, staff also objected to the idea that their lessons should be disrupted by having another member of staff pull out students, remind them of something they'd done wrong and potentially sending them back into someone else's lesson having potentially had a bit of conflict/having wound them up.

I do think restorative conversations as part of a detention can work well- but if you teach a core subject there sometimes isn't time to have this happen before you teach the class again.

I'd also say that surely good (or "good enough") behaviour should be the default in a school- even for a cover teacher or for a new teacher coming in part way through the year. Yes, effort and participation might improve after relationships are built up, but behaviour good enough for learning to take place should be the default.

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 17:30

Never mind the restorative conversations: it’s the conversations with parents that take the time. Why should a qualified and fully trained teacher have to justify almost each and every sanction?

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Michaelbaubles · 02/06/2019 17:33

My experience that nearly drove me out of teaching -

I was new to a school which had a large number of teachers who had been there 20+ years, and had taught parents etc. Those teachers got great behaviour. I was experienced but still a new face and not known (so not an ex-student like many teachers there). Top sets/mixed classes: I had immaculate behaviour, strong routines, making excellent progress right from the start (so clearly can actually teach in decent conditions). Bottom set (and bottom bottom set at that) y8 and 9, very very challenging. Swore at, openly defied, tried to follow behaviour system but required huge amount of work - eg was asked why I wasn’t phoning home every time - erm well these students have so many detentions they can’t book another one in, they are badly behaved all over the place, but my one phone call (made in my own time) is supposed to change things? Also as a FT teacher and single parent I was not exactly wallowing in time to do this.

Y9 class after lunch were routinely late - 5 or 6 of them every lesson. Logging these left me at my computer right at the point of the lesson when they urgently needed a teacher at the front. Confronting kids led to drama much-enjoyed by all, inevitable sendings-out which despite my calmness were used as a change for a lovely scene, and students were often sent back because “isolation is full” (but wait, there’s no behaviour problems at this school, it’s just me, so how can that be?)

HoD (of 5 years teaching experience) asks what can be done to help support me with this class. I say “could you or someone from SLT stand outside the room for the first ten minutes once or twice and mop up any latecomers. Then I could get a run of positive, well-started lessons under my belt,
I could get the good students more onside as they would see the naughty ones being tackled, and we could get some learning done.”

HoD does not do this. He sends in the old-guardest of old-guard SLT to do an ofsysd graded observation, period 4 on a Friday, which I clearly spectacularly fail. One of the reasons being that students were regularly late and I wasn’t tackling it. Was told I needed to “be more engaging” but also that I smiled too much, needed to be stricter but also that I talked too loud, and had I even tried handing out detentions?

I knew then I was doomed and I basically ended up having a breakdown. I left and got another teaching job that is like night and day, but I always think, what if my HoD had trusted my judgement as an experienced teacher and just done what I’d asked? We could have cracked the problem in a week. Instead they paid me for 6 months off sick, the class had all manner of teachers (and never did behave better), and the profession nearly lost a good teacher!

And this is a good school with a strict uniform and beaming students on the prospectus. They still don’t have any behaviour problems either! Apparently. Although the high number of teachers on long-term sick doesn’t back that up.

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 17:41

@michaelbaubles what us your current school like?

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Michaelbaubles · 02/06/2019 18:00

I teach in a sixth form college where quite frankly, my colleagues who’ve never taught in schools are gobsmacked by my tales! And I never taught in a “bad” school, leafy rural ones. But my behaviour issues are basically zero. Attendance gets chased up by pastoral staff. The very very slight bit of disruptive behaviour is generally solved by a two-minute chat and the use of my disappointed face.

The difference is that the principal will just say to a kid’s face “you don’t seem like the kind of student we want here” if they’re not acting appropriately. And I don’t have the cream of the crop by any means. Plenty of students from very difficult schools, rough backgrounds, and I teach a subject not held in very high esteem generally! But I’m trusted in the classroom, not micro-managed, hardly ever observed (and even then it’s a nice process) and supported from above.

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Michaelbaubles · 02/06/2019 18:08

One of my massive issues since moving is the complete lack of trust I have in anything anyone tells me. I’ve been so used to being gaslighted and bullshitted for so long I just can’t take anything at face value. I had an observation where the observer gave me some feedback on what I could improve. Being used to the system in schools where “gentle feedback” = “you’re completely shit”, I went away feeling savaged and like I was failing totally. When my HoD asked how it had gone, I was clearly upset and told her I was so sorry but it had gone terribly, and I didn’t think I’d shown myself in a good light.

She went to see the observer and came back completely baffled - the observer had said “oh yeah, there were some issues but we talked them through and came up with a plan of action. If I was grading observations still it would have been a 2. She’s doing well!” It never occurred to me that “some hints for improvement” were just that and not a way of suggesting you were a moron ever to have contemplating disgracing the profession with your presence.

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Piggywaspushed · 02/06/2019 20:25

Happily, I work in a school where we don't need to log everything and where we don't have all these pedantic structures. However, we have no policy really on behaviour, SLT all say and believe different things. And they are to a man (not a phrase; they are all men) unsupportive of colleagues who are struggling with anything or anyone. And they, too, think we should phone parents about absobloodylutely everything.

I visited a school which said that creating order in the school was the job of SLT and teachers should just teach. I was very sceptical so I asked around a bit. Every teacher I secretly asked said the SLT were immensely supportive and that they never had to engage in conflict with students themselves. The amount of teaching they were getting done in lessons was obviously far more than in many schools. Sadly, the teaching I saw was a bit shit, though...

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noblegiraffe · 02/06/2019 20:43

One thing that seems to be totally overlooked in this restorative conversation gig is the ability of the teacher to have that sort of conversation.

What might work for a PE teacher (behaviour leaders are always PE teachers) for whom inspiring coaching conversations are bread and butter doesn’t always work for a nerdy maths teacher with fewer social skills.

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Piggywaspushed · 02/06/2019 20:46

Ermmm, actually I was (note the was!) HoY! There's a few PE teachers knocking around the pastoral teams but not nearly as many as in a lot of schools.

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 20:47

@michaelbaubles sounds like you’ll take a while to get de-institutionalised!!

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likeafishneedsabike · 02/06/2019 20:53

@piggywaspushed I have noticed the same correlation between iron clad behaviour systems and slightly shit teaching Shock What’s that about?

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