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Parents say teachers are unfair to kids

Latest findings by Reva Klein

When it comes to explaining why children misbehave at school, parents believe that unfairness to pupils on the part of teachers is at least as much to blame as difficulties at home.

A study of 144 parents concludes that they think that their children get into trouble at primary school because their teachers are rude, have favourites, pick on certain pupils, shout, fail to listen to children or praise them for good work, have bad moods and apportion blame unfairly. Teachers are also accused of being "too soft".

Parents concede that peer influence and family circumstances can cause bad behaviour at school, too, but only up to a point. Fighting and arguments at home, not enough parental discipline and children not seeing a parent regularly are seen as lesser factors than other pupils' bad behaviour and not enough money for families to eat or buy clothes.

In view of a number of previous studies showing that teachers see things rather differently, blaming bad pupil behaviour on parents, the researchers conclude that parents and teachers need to put heads together to discuss their different perceptions if initiatives such as home-school agreements and pastoral support programmes are to have a chance of succeeding.

Parents' and Pupils' Causal Attributions for Difficult Classroom Behaviour by Andy Miller et al, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham. British Journal of Educational Psychology 2002, No. 72, pp. 27-40. www.bps.org.uk

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