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A call to action against poor behaviour in schools and the prevalence of useless "policies" preventing teachers doing their job

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by angry jedi, Nov 7, 2006.

  1. Although I no longer work in schools, and do not intend to in the near or distant future, these are issues I feel very strongly about, being the reason I left in the first place.

    I would like to encourage anyone who feels the same way about this to join me in writing to your MP to make your opinions known, either via the means of the website http://www.writetothem.com (formerly FaxYourMP) or directly.

    I have no desire for my children to grow up and be educated in a system where praise is meaningless, poor behaviour goes unpunished and exciting things for classes to do are cancelled on the grounds of "unnecessary risks" and fear of litigation.

    These are the specific issues which I personally am concerned about. Please feel free to comment and add to them below:

    * GENERAL BEHAVIOUR

    Poor behaviour in schools is out of control, and while action is supposedly being taken to combat issues such as this, it is being gone about in the wrong way. Teachers are blamed by OFSTED for poor behaviour on the grounds that their lessons are not "interesting" or "fun" enough, and pupils are often given ready-made excuses to defend their actions by the means of new medical "conditions" which seem to be "discovered" on an almost daily basis.

    Pupils should be held accountable for their own behaviour, not teachers. There are situations where pupils misbehave in class and no amount of intervention from the teacher will stop them. This is not "poor classroom management", it is a child behaving badly and refusing to comply with authority.

    Teachers should be given further powers to discipline children. At present, detentions do not work because pupils do not attend them, and in many cases parents back them up in this. If detentions are to work, then they should be tied in with the school's attendance policies and any pupil not turning up to a scheduled detention should be treated in the same manner as a truant.

    While corporal punishment is frowned upon by many members of the public now, it provided an effective deterrent. There are few, if any, deterrents against poor behaviour in place for children in school now. Expulsions and suspensions are completely ineffective, as the only effect they have is to get the children out of school, which is probably what they want in the first place.

    This lack of punishment in schools gives children free rein to do as they please, knowledge which they carry out into the world at large because the situation is often the same with the police. As a result, we are now in a culture where people walking down the street are genuinely and justifiably afraid of groups of youths standing on street corners.

    * CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR

    It is of great concern to me that criminal behaviour in many schools goes unpunished under the law. It seems to me that many school management teams would prefer that their schools are arenas which operate "outside the law", at least when it comes to the behaviour of children.

    Violent incidents go unprosecuted. Thefts go uninvestigated and perpetrators remain at large. I have two examples of this happening at my previous school:

    1. A violent incident occurred in which a child with "emotional and behavioural difficulties", included in the class thanks to the Inclusion policy, punched a teacher in the face, causing bruising and bleeding. The attack was unprovoked, save for the fact the teacher had removed the pupil from a lesson due to poor behaviour. This is not grounds for a violent assault.

    2. Some expensive recording equipment which I had brought in to school in good faith in order to make my lessons more "interesting" and "fun", and also to comply with suggestions from the departmental Line Manager to take more time to record assessment pieces, was stolen from my desk. When I expressed my anger and disappointment at this betrayal of trust, I was blamed for "not keeping the microphone in a secure enough place". It was in an unmarked box inside a drawer in my desk, in my room which was kept locked at all times except during lessons, which suggests that it was taken by a pupil during lesson time - in which case, having it in a "secure place" would have been little help anyway.

    When I took the matter further with the senior management team, they seemed remarkably unconcerned, and their main priority appeared to be that I had upset my head of department with my justifiably angry reaction. I was encouraged "not to contact the police, as it wouldn't be worth it".

    This microphone was already a replacement which the school had admittedly generously provided thanks to the original unit being severely damaged by pupils messing around. Incidentally, the damaged original unit remains in the possession of the school and has not been returned to me despite several requests.

    * PROLIFERATION OF "POLICIES"

    It seemed when I was working in schools that every other week a new "policy" was introduced. Very few of these made teachers' lives any easier, and very often they introduced new rules and regulations which seemed to serve little purpose other than to provide an ever-denser "paper trail" in order to track what is going on in school and how the school complies with the latest fashionably politically-correct suggestions.

    These policies range from the straightforward and relatively sensible (e.g. the consistent application of behaviour policies across the school - fine if they worked, unfortunately they don't) to the absurd (e.g. "don't mark in red pen, it's aggressive and/or offensive to Asian pupils").

    * INCLUSION

    By far the worst policy, however, is the Inclusion policy enforced on all schools by the government. Few people have the courage to stand up to this publicly - since who would want to say "I'm against inclusion!", thereby implying they are for "exclusion"?

    The fact is, including children with more severe special needs and/or behavioural problems in mainstream education does far more harm than good. These pupils take up a lot more of the teacher's time, and as a result, more able or even "average" (which is a horrible way to describe someone) pupils are sometimes left by the wayside. This is particularly the case where the special needs in question involve behavioural issues.

    Teachers are not trained effectively to deal with many of these pupils, and while the defence to that is usually that the teachers are given support staff to assist them, the fact is that very often teachers are left on their own with these pupils, with no training and no specialist assistance. This inevitably leads to disruption.

    Pupils for whom English is not their first language are also put into lessons without any language support. I had a Thai girl in my music classes who spoke no English whatsoever and as a result was unable to take part in the lessons. Quite what the proponents of Inclusion believe she was getting out of the sessions is beyond me - I have heard the argument that she was "absorbing the culture", but to be honest, it looked more like she was bored stiff and frustrated that she couldn't take part.

    * NON-QUALIFIED STAFF

    The rise in "cover supervisors" is putting supply teachers out of a job, at the expense of pupils' learning in many cases, since very often these cover supervisors are non-qualified staff who are left to teach lessons in subjects they may not be specialists in.

    While it is good that a solution has been found for the "cover problem" - i.e. teachers having to cover absent colleagues' lessons, thereby eating into their already precious free time - there is no way an unqualified member of staff is an adequate substitute for a qualified teacher. It is simply a money-saving measure.

    * COMPENSATION CULTURE AND FEAR OF LITIGATION

    So many schools are now cancelling school trips for fear of "accidents" occurring and parents/pupils suing the school. This is a direct result of the obnoxious "compensation culture" we find ourselves in, and it appears nothing can be done without a "risk assessment".

    I was once "told off" publicly in front of other staff because I was taking four children to a local primary school which was just down the road to perform a concert for the young children. My misdemeanour? I had not filled out a risk assessment. I resisted the temptation to hand a form to the person demanding it with "don't be so bloody ridiculous" scrawled across it in large unfriendly letters.

    * TARGETS AND FIDDLING OF FIGURES

    Exam results are getting better year on year, or so we're told. In actual fact, the pass mark boundaries are being lowered each year and the questions are getting easier. To achieve an A* now is considerably easier than before.

    However, this does not stop schools focusing on setting targets for pass rates. The side-effect of this is that pupils are taught how to remember things (the school I worked at even brought in some "thinking and memory skills" specialists to do a workshop for year 11) rather than how to use their knowledge to work things out for themselves.

    Pupils are losing the ability to research things and are often copy-and-pasting from the Internet to produce their coursework. Many teachers are either not noticing this, or are being encouraged to "look the other way". This is not only immoral, it is having a detrimental effect on the intelligence of future generations.

    * * * *

    There are undoubtedly other points that I have missed - please feel free to add them below.

    I would encourage everyone who feels strongly about this to try and do something about it by initially writing to your MP and declaring in no uncertain terms that we are unwilling to stand for this any longer. It may not have an immediate effect, but you will feel better for making your feelings known, and also, the more letters in these terms that the MPs receive, the greater the likelihood that they will realise that something will have to be done about it.

    Beyond that, it may be necessary to take some sort of further action, the form of which I have not yet considered. If anyone has any suitable suggestions, please put them forward!
     
  2. Although I no longer work in schools, and do not intend to in the near or distant future, these are issues I feel very strongly about, being the reason I left in the first place.

    I would like to encourage anyone who feels the same way about this to join me in writing to your MP to make your opinions known, either via the means of the website http://www.writetothem.com (formerly FaxYourMP) or directly.

    I have no desire for my children to grow up and be educated in a system where praise is meaningless, poor behaviour goes unpunished and exciting things for classes to do are cancelled on the grounds of "unnecessary risks" and fear of litigation.

    These are the specific issues which I personally am concerned about. Please feel free to comment and add to them below:

    * GENERAL BEHAVIOUR

    Poor behaviour in schools is out of control, and while action is supposedly being taken to combat issues such as this, it is being gone about in the wrong way. Teachers are blamed by OFSTED for poor behaviour on the grounds that their lessons are not "interesting" or "fun" enough, and pupils are often given ready-made excuses to defend their actions by the means of new medical "conditions" which seem to be "discovered" on an almost daily basis.

    Pupils should be held accountable for their own behaviour, not teachers. There are situations where pupils misbehave in class and no amount of intervention from the teacher will stop them. This is not "poor classroom management", it is a child behaving badly and refusing to comply with authority.

    Teachers should be given further powers to discipline children. At present, detentions do not work because pupils do not attend them, and in many cases parents back them up in this. If detentions are to work, then they should be tied in with the school's attendance policies and any pupil not turning up to a scheduled detention should be treated in the same manner as a truant.

    While corporal punishment is frowned upon by many members of the public now, it provided an effective deterrent. There are few, if any, deterrents against poor behaviour in place for children in school now. Expulsions and suspensions are completely ineffective, as the only effect they have is to get the children out of school, which is probably what they want in the first place.

    This lack of punishment in schools gives children free rein to do as they please, knowledge which they carry out into the world at large because the situation is often the same with the police. As a result, we are now in a culture where people walking down the street are genuinely and justifiably afraid of groups of youths standing on street corners.

    * CRIMINAL BEHAVIOUR

    It is of great concern to me that criminal behaviour in many schools goes unpunished under the law. It seems to me that many school management teams would prefer that their schools are arenas which operate "outside the law", at least when it comes to the behaviour of children.

    Violent incidents go unprosecuted. Thefts go uninvestigated and perpetrators remain at large. I have two examples of this happening at my previous school:

    1. A violent incident occurred in which a child with "emotional and behavioural difficulties", included in the class thanks to the Inclusion policy, punched a teacher in the face, causing bruising and bleeding. The attack was unprovoked, save for the fact the teacher had removed the pupil from a lesson due to poor behaviour. This is not grounds for a violent assault.

    2. Some expensive recording equipment which I had brought in to school in good faith in order to make my lessons more "interesting" and "fun", and also to comply with suggestions from the departmental Line Manager to take more time to record assessment pieces, was stolen from my desk. When I expressed my anger and disappointment at this betrayal of trust, I was blamed for "not keeping the microphone in a secure enough place". It was in an unmarked box inside a drawer in my desk, in my room which was kept locked at all times except during lessons, which suggests that it was taken by a pupil during lesson time - in which case, having it in a "secure place" would have been little help anyway.

    When I took the matter further with the senior management team, they seemed remarkably unconcerned, and their main priority appeared to be that I had upset my head of department with my justifiably angry reaction. I was encouraged "not to contact the police, as it wouldn't be worth it".

    This microphone was already a replacement which the school had admittedly generously provided thanks to the original unit being severely damaged by pupils messing around. Incidentally, the damaged original unit remains in the possession of the school and has not been returned to me despite several requests.

    * PROLIFERATION OF "POLICIES"

    It seemed when I was working in schools that every other week a new "policy" was introduced. Very few of these made teachers' lives any easier, and very often they introduced new rules and regulations which seemed to serve little purpose other than to provide an ever-denser "paper trail" in order to track what is going on in school and how the school complies with the latest fashionably politically-correct suggestions.

    These policies range from the straightforward and relatively sensible (e.g. the consistent application of behaviour policies across the school - fine if they worked, unfortunately they don't) to the absurd (e.g. "don't mark in red pen, it's aggressive and/or offensive to Asian pupils").

    * INCLUSION

    By far the worst policy, however, is the Inclusion policy enforced on all schools by the government. Few people have the courage to stand up to this publicly - since who would want to say "I'm against inclusion!", thereby implying they are for "exclusion"?

    The fact is, including children with more severe special needs and/or behavioural problems in mainstream education does far more harm than good. These pupils take up a lot more of the teacher's time, and as a result, more able or even "average" (which is a horrible way to describe someone) pupils are sometimes left by the wayside. This is particularly the case where the special needs in question involve behavioural issues.

    Teachers are not trained effectively to deal with many of these pupils, and while the defence to that is usually that the teachers are given support staff to assist them, the fact is that very often teachers are left on their own with these pupils, with no training and no specialist assistance. This inevitably leads to disruption.

    Pupils for whom English is not their first language are also put into lessons without any language support. I had a Thai girl in my music classes who spoke no English whatsoever and as a result was unable to take part in the lessons. Quite what the proponents of Inclusion believe she was getting out of the sessions is beyond me - I have heard the argument that she was "absorbing the culture", but to be honest, it looked more like she was bored stiff and frustrated that she couldn't take part.

    * NON-QUALIFIED STAFF

    The rise in "cover supervisors" is putting supply teachers out of a job, at the expense of pupils' learning in many cases, since very often these cover supervisors are non-qualified staff who are left to teach lessons in subjects they may not be specialists in.

    While it is good that a solution has been found for the "cover problem" - i.e. teachers having to cover absent colleagues' lessons, thereby eating into their already precious free time - there is no way an unqualified member of staff is an adequate substitute for a qualified teacher. It is simply a money-saving measure.

    * COMPENSATION CULTURE AND FEAR OF LITIGATION

    So many schools are now cancelling school trips for fear of "accidents" occurring and parents/pupils suing the school. This is a direct result of the obnoxious "compensation culture" we find ourselves in, and it appears nothing can be done without a "risk assessment".

    I was once "told off" publicly in front of other staff because I was taking four children to a local primary school which was just down the road to perform a concert for the young children. My misdemeanour? I had not filled out a risk assessment. I resisted the temptation to hand a form to the person demanding it with "don't be so bloody ridiculous" scrawled across it in large unfriendly letters.

    * TARGETS AND FIDDLING OF FIGURES

    Exam results are getting better year on year, or so we're told. In actual fact, the pass mark boundaries are being lowered each year and the questions are getting easier. To achieve an A* now is considerably easier than before.

    However, this does not stop schools focusing on setting targets for pass rates. The side-effect of this is that pupils are taught how to remember things (the school I worked at even brought in some "thinking and memory skills" specialists to do a workshop for year 11) rather than how to use their knowledge to work things out for themselves.

    Pupils are losing the ability to research things and are often copy-and-pasting from the Internet to produce their coursework. Many teachers are either not noticing this, or are being encouraged to "look the other way". This is not only immoral, it is having a detrimental effect on the intelligence of future generations.

    * * * *

    There are undoubtedly other points that I have missed - please feel free to add them below.

    I would encourage everyone who feels strongly about this to try and do something about it by initially writing to your MP and declaring in no uncertain terms that we are unwilling to stand for this any longer. It may not have an immediate effect, but you will feel better for making your feelings known, and also, the more letters in these terms that the MPs receive, the greater the likelihood that they will realise that something will have to be done about it.

    Beyond that, it may be necessary to take some sort of further action, the form of which I have not yet considered. If anyone has any suitable suggestions, please put them forward!
     
  3. You and me too angri jedi! How I empathise and I know you've seen my postings so you realise I left for the same reasons as you! Will certainly be writing to my MP about this, thanks for the contact. Like you, wild horses won't get me back in the classroom. Pity, as I always got on well with the students, got consistently good results (even though grade boundaries are lower!) and students were always sorry when I left.
     
  4. I agree wholeheartedly with you angry jedi.

    The various teachers unions should be at the fore front, leading a campaign to have all your points addressed.

    The only way I can see the government taking notice is if it is approached from the aspect of the children's education suffering due to inclusion etc.
    Perhaps then they will be worried at losing votes. They do not seem at all concerned about teachers health, safety or quality of life.

    hunnie
     
  5. Angry Jedi

    One of the most illuminating and authentic articles I have ever read telling the REAL TRUTH about teaching.

    Like your good self, I quit last summer after years of putting up with something I was no longer happy with.

    Send this article to all the daily newspapers.

    Well done, sir.
     
  6. Angry jedi

    Please put this on Opinion, where I am sure you will reach a wider audience in support of your points.
     
  7. baitranger

    baitranger New commenter

    I agree with everything you say.
    I would add to your list though the current fashion for "pupil centred learning" which often seems to have as its basis the ludicrous notion that the pupils know more than the teacher and that their "discussions" are a useful way for them to learn.
     
  8. Thanks for the comments. I have reposted this on Opinion.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one disgusted with things at the moment!
     
  9. Angry Jedi, I totally agree with your comments...every single one of them. I am angry too. Very angry actually.

    I was told by my Head that I have poor behaviour management skills, which I totally disagree.

    We had several kids on drugs, turned up to lessons late, jumped on desks, ran around the room, swearing at me and were not excluded. How could I manage behaviour effectively if these were the type of kids I was up against every day and not getting the support? I was not given the support and back up from the people who could make a difference. I always sent for senior management when I needed help and the badly behaved kids were reintegrated into my lesson, even though I had asked for them to be removed. The quiet kids suffered because of the bad behaviour of others.

    This is getting worse and when I watched the news last week about 'Britain having the worst teenagers in Europe' I was even more annoyed. If the facts are there, why don't the people with the power do something about it?
     
  10. This should certainly be circulated to the government, MPs and to teacher training institutions as evidence of what damage has been caused by ludicrous education policies over the last, what, 15 years. Unfortunately, it won't have any effect.
     
  11. Years ago, teachers were respected. Now teachers are not respected and are expected to teach unteachable kids.

    Can't make any sense of it.

     
  12. On a slight tangent - it really annoys me when people say crime in school shouldn't be looked at by the police/law enforcement.

    Surely the dictionary definition of the word 'crime' is an activity that goes against and is forbidden by the laws of the government - ie an ILLEGAL act. an act punishable by the laws of that state.

    By its very definition, a crime should be handled by officers of the law. so why this 'deal with it in school' attitude? Students are just as subject to the laws of this country as anyone else - logically speaking, anyway.

    Great post by the way angry jedi, I agree on all points.
     
  13. On another aside, dydx, what are you doing now, if you don't mind me asking? xx
     
  14. casper

    casper New commenter

    Hi angry jedi- spent a 50 min lesson- musci trying to teach , but instead dealing with appaling behaviour of 8 pupils in a class of 30. the same pupils rare behaving lie this on a regular basis. I filled in the necessary silps and informed yr head nad tutor. Three arrived late becasue they having a conversaton with another teacher about their behaviour in hte previous lesson adn lesson 1 - another practical subject, they were boasting about poor behaviour forthat teacher too. I found that teacher and informed her and together we approached their PM tutor group to inform their tutor.

    I went in feeling not 100% in bed with a cold over the weekend, why did I bother??? For the good kids who missed out today. I cannot teach like this!

    I was off at a interview adn they played up for the cover supervisor adn 8 og them were chucked out of the lesson. Sadly I did not ge the job I went for.
     
  15. I have just returned to teaching in the UK after two years overseas and have been trying to put my finger on what is wrong. This explains the reasons I am thinking about leaving the proffession perfectly.

    Can anybody see how there is a possibility of improvement in the next few years. I can only see it getting worse. Glad I'm not the only one.
     
  16. Hi

    It was interesting reading your messages. I'm in my first year of teaching to 16 plus. the younger ones are a nitemare. I'm having problems with two that have really bad attitude and behaviour problems and i don't know what to do about them. Management is weak like you have all said too. the two students are on report for behaviour which i think is an effective method in this case. Please if any of you experienced teachers can advise me as to how to handle this situation, which has become like a game for the students. Please please let me know as soon as possible.

    many thanks
     
  17. Fantastic article, it seems you're really passionate about teaching. It's such a shame that it's been ruined for you by the current state of schools. I agree completely about ridiculous politically correct measures.

    It hasn't put me off teaching though. I think teachers should get together and demand more rights for protecting themselves and creating a better teaching environment through the kids actually fearing/respecting them.
     
  18. Mexicola

    Mexicola New commenter

    angry jedi, I couldn't agree more with your post. Recently I was sexually harrassed by a Year 10 boy with a long history of drug abuse and disruptive behaviour. Instead of being expelled, he is being 'monitored'. How effective. I love teaching but am sickened by the extent to which our hands are tied by bureaucratic bull****.
     
  19. Not only do I agree but I am greatly relieved to find so many others with the same opinion. I am now signed off with stress while I work out my notice, although I have never had more than 2 days off sick at a time in my whole working life. I had begun to feel that I am no good at the job because I have had problems with poor behaviour in my lessons. I have found it impossible to teach exam courses to pupils who do not want to learn the subject but are being forced as it is a compulsory subject (ICT). The few low ability but well behaved pupils are suffering because I dare not turn my back on the rest of the class to help an individual as something it certain to be thrown across the room. (Heavy text books, bottles of water, pencil cases etc). I came to the profession to teach but this is not a realistic possibility. If I said this at school the answer was "well behaviour management is part of the job - you should be able to cope with it". So glad to be out - even though I now have "stress" on my record.
     
  20. Delly26, your situation sounds similar to mine.

    It was the week before the Easter half term holiday. On the Friday I had been asked by a local primary school to take some pupils along to play some music for the nippers. (This was not the "risk assessment" incident) I phoned the primary school to confirm that week and they seemed to have no knowledge of this.

    Then one day that week I was sick - proper throwy-uppy sick - so I took the day off. While I was off, I received a stroppy message from my HoD demanding to know why I hadn't informed her about this trip as there were children asking about it and she knew nothing. It was nothing to do with her, and in any case, it wasn't happening. She accused me of having "poor communication skills".

    That was it. I sent her a furious email back explaining exactly why I didn't feel very communicative - i.e. that I was so stressed out with all the nonsense I was putting up with (mostly behaviour) that all I wanted to do when I got home every night was cry. Then I did burst into tears and took myself straight to the doctor to be signed off. That was that. I never set foot in that school again, except to pick up my things on the last day after the children had left, when my HoD informed me that she had put the aforementioned microphone "away" somewhere and would send it to me. I still have not received it.

    The three years I spent in schools were enough to foul my feelings towards education forever. Until there is a revolution in educational practice, I, and many others like me, will not set foot in a school again. This is a pity, because I know I am not the only one who enjoys teaching. Unfortunately, working as a teacher in school nowadays involves little to no teaching.

    It upsets me to think of people blindly going on and considering that nothing is wrong.
     

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