Editor's comment

17th April 2009 at 01:00

Easter would not be Easter without the usual litany of mayhem and malaise in schools, at least as it is conveyed from the string of union conferences south of the border. Just to make sure everyone gets the point about disorientation, if not disintegration, they all meet at the same time to reinforce each others' woes and terrify the nation.

But some of the revelations from the various podia will resonate with teachers in Scotland. All the teaching unions in England report an upsurge in appalling pupil and, more worryingly, parent behaviour. The NASUWT's survey, which discovered that barely one in 10 physical assaults are reported, is particularly telling. Schools do not want to damage their reputations, and that fear is not confined to England.

There have been claims that the recession has led to pupils behaving badly. But another survey, by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, has revealed that 58 per cent of its members believed student behaviour had deteriorated in the past five years. In other words, the root causes of poor behaviour go deeper and cannot be explained by the state of the economy.

Whatever the reasons - and there are many, from inadequate parenting to an inadequate curriculum - teachers should not be expected to resign themselves to the inevitability of misbehaviour. Many schools equip their staff with the skills to deal with bad behaviour; some do not. Equally, poor behaviour must be reported. Failure to do so is ultimately self-defeating: if bad behaviour is not reported, it cannot be dealt with.

In addition, if poor parenting is part of the problem, the debate about what to do about it must be part of the solution. We are right to be obsessed about the quality of lessons in school. But we also need increasingly to focus on the lessons learnt at home.

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