Exclusive: 70% of teachers see a Covid behaviour slump

Primary pupils ‘hurting each other and screaming’ while secondary students ‘confrontational’, teachers tell Tes survey

Coronavirus: More than two-thirds of teachers have reported a slump in behaviour in schools

More than two-thirds of teachers say pupil behaviour has worsened since the Covid pandemic began – and a third say it has worsened “noticeably” or “hugely”.

The findings come from a Tes survey responded to by more than 7,000 UK teachers. They have told how fights have become “common”, with teachers saying they are “shocked” by lack of care among pupils towards each other and staff.

One state secondary school teacher said: “Year 11 have moved from a calm, well-behaved class to totally unmanageable and rowdy.”

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Another said: “It took almost the whole of last term to gain a level of ‘normal’ behaviours. It will be back to square one again.”

The survey asked teachers: “What extent has your pupils' behaviour changed for the worst since the pandemic began?"

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A total of 38 per cent said “a little” while 26 per cent said “not at all”, while 6 per cent said they didn’t know.


A state secondary teacher said: “Behaviour in school was terrible. Fights were becoming common, and health and safety was ignored. Union began to get involved before Christmas, but school closures made it redundant.”

Another said: “Behaviour has been challenging from September - December. I have felt at times on unsafe on site due to student behaviour – eg, not making an effort or any effort, in some cases, to wear masks, socially distance, etc. Some students have been confrontational. I find the lack of caring for each other and staff shocking from some year groups and students.”

A primary teacher said: “[Pupils are] very unsettled, struggle to concentrate for longer than 10 mins, very very needy and look for attention. Children that never concerned me are now hurting other children and screaming in distress."

However, a primary head said: “If anything, [behaviour] has improved," while another said: “[It’s] better overall."

The findings echo the results of a Tes survey a month into last term when 69 per cent of teachers reported a slump in behaviour since the pandemic began.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We recognise the challenges schools are facing and are enormously grateful to teachers and other school staff for the resilience and commitment they have shown in supporting children through the pandemic.

“All schools should be safe and disciplined environments in which pupils are able to fulfil their potential. Our behaviour hubs programme will help create those conditions which will help ensure all pupils have a smooth transition back to school.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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