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Exclusive: Four in 10 teachers struggle with behaviour

Teachers warn that deteriorating behaviour and a lack of support from management is 'bringing the profession to its knees'

The majority of teachers say classroom behaviour has got worse

Teachers warn that deteriorating behaviour and a lack of support from management is 'bringing the profession to its knees'

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.

The charity’s head of policy, Richard Faulkner, noted a “strong link” between poor pupil behaviour and teachers' declining mental health, and said that the issue of behaviour was consistently raised by teachers who call the charity’s emotional-support helpline. There has been a 35 per cent increase in calls to the helpline, including from teachers with suicidal feelings.

Mr Faulkner said poor behaviour often centred on "low-level disruptive and disengaged behaviours", which were occurring on "an increasingly frequent basis".

He added: "A key theme we also saw was the idea of students and also parents undermining the decisions and actions of teachers, plus a lack of support being provided around behaviour management."

The charity published its 2018 teacher-wellbeing index last week, which revealed that a third of teachers were suffering from mental health issues, and that half of teachers were suffering from insomnia – with numbers up a third since last year.

And Tes can reveal today that the proportion of teachers struggling to manage pupil behaviour increased “significantly” in 2018, to 43 per cent, up from 34 per cent last year, and that there was “particular reference" by teachers to "not feeling support" by management.

One primary teacher, questioned as part of the research, said: “Pupil behaviour and lack of real support with this is bringing the profession to its knees.” Meanwhile, a secondary teacher said: “Pupil behaviour is atrocious; I feel I'm being verbally abused/sworn at on a daily basis.”

The research also found that 42 per cent of education professionals have felt threatened in some way during their time working in education, and that of those who felt threatened, threats from pupils were the most common (60 per cent).

Joint general secretary of the NEU teachers' union, Kevin Courtney, called for more training and resources to help teachers deal with difficult pupil behaviour.

He said: “We’ve found that during the period of austerity there have been less behaviour-support teachers around.  

“Management supporting teachers in these circumstances is a key characteristic of a school doing well.”

Last month's Trades Union Congress in Manchester heard warnings from the NASUWT teaching union of a direct link between the mental health of teachers and that of their pupils, and that the long-term consequences could be “catastrophic” for the country.

The NASUWT’s annual big-question survey, carried out earlier this year, found that almost two-thirds of teachers said their job had adversely affected their mental health in the past 12 months.

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