Lack of guaranteed behaviour management training is 'glaring omission' in teacher education

New report suggests trainees should graduate with a portfolio of videos in which they demonstrate behaviour management techniques with real classes

Helen Ward

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The lack of guaranteed behaviour management training is a “glaring omission” in teacher training, the government’s behaviour tsar Tom Bennett has said.

Mr Bennett chaired a Department for Education working party into improving behaviour training.

The report, published today, has called for behaviour training to be delivered by someone with “recent” classroom experience and for it to be revisited throughout the training year. Time in schools should also be put aside to give trainees more time to think and reflect on how to improve.

“Behaviour management training is sometimes good, it is sometimes not so good,” Tom Bennett told TES. “Teachers don’t have guaranteed access to a range of strategies in their training on how to handle behaviour in the classroom.

“That is not just a small thing to be fixed, but a glaring omission because running a classroom is one of the most crucial things a teacher can do.

“Wherever possible we should be training teachers in a practical way. It’s ridiculous to ask someone to learn how to run a classroom through a lecture or a handout, or worse still just assume they are going to pick it up in school as they go along.”

Trainees could be made to take part in classroom role-play scenarios before they start their first placements, he said. 

Then, once in schools, trainees should have support from a mentor, who can observe their teaching and have a positive, low-stakes conversation about how to improve their classroom management.

He added that he is not interested in training teachers in a “one size fits all” behaviour approach, but wants them to have a range of strategies they can use in the classroom.

The group has designed a behaviour curriculum based on routines, building relationships between teachers and students, and responses when things go wrong.

The report comes as two other government-commissioned expert groups published reports on ITT today, including one laying out a new framework for ITT content and one setting out standards for school-based mentors.

The report on the core framework says that training providers should give trainees advice on maintaining a sustainable work/life balance, as well as ensuring that trainees have good subject knowledge and can plan, teach and assess lessons.

The report also highlights the need for trainees to be able to use technology effectively in lessons and recognise special educational needs and disabilities. Trainees should also demonstrate a knowledge of different research methods, their benefits and limitations and know where to find evidence-supported resources.

The government has said that it wants to use the new framework to develop a set of quality criteria which will be applied when training places are allocated to providers from the 2018/19 training year onwards. It will not be making behaviour training mandatory as recommended.

The report on school-based mentors says they should be able to empathise with the challenges a trainee faces, support trainees in developing their teaching practice, induct the trainee into professional norms and continue to develop their own professional knowledge.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “NAHT is particularly glad to see that there will be a strong focus on assessment skills for trainee teachers. We are also pleased to see that the reports feature our recommendations that ITT includes a good grounding in childhood psychology and development, and that training regarding teaching children with special needs should be a key component of initial teacher training.

"We would urge the government to consider our proposal for a two year qualification period for new teachers, to allow sufficient time for all these essential components to be delivered effectively. One year may not be sufficient.”

The reports come after Sir Andrew Carter, executive headteacher of South Farnham School in Surrey, reported on initial teacher training in January 2015 – his report found that behaviour management training should be an integral part of teacher training.

He also recommended that a framework of common core content should be developed for ITT. 

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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