Horror stories are the first-job norm

7th October 2005 at 01:00
NQTs increasingly face violent and disrespectful pupils. Jon Slater reports

It is a newly-qualified teacher's worst nightmare. A pupil out of control, overturning chairs, stopping only to tell the helpless NQT to "fuck off".

What is there to do but call for help? Yet a member of the school's senior management team takes 20 minutes to arrive.

That was the experience of a 24-year-old woman in her second term of teaching in a Hampshire secondary school. It is one of many horror stories told by teachers' union NASUWT in a survey of 75 NQTs published this week.

The anonymous survey of teachers across the UK paints a picture of NQTs out of their depth and ill-equipped to cope with a rising tide of bad behaviour.

Two out of five of those questioned said they had to deal with behavioural issues on an hourly basis, with 80 per cent saying discipline problems emerged daily and only 7 per cent describing them as rare.

One teacher had suffered three breakdowns due to physical and emotional exhaustion.

Persistent verbal aggression was reported by two-thirds of NQTs, 60 per cent had experienced persistent low-level indiscipline and 16 per cent occasional physical violence.

A 23-year-old primary teacher in Northern Ireland described how a pupil threatened to kick her before having a tantrum and being carried kicking and screaming from class by the principal.

Another primary teacher reported a fist fight between pupils in class, while a secondary science teacher from Stockport had a diary thrown at her head by a disgruntled pupil. Most of those questioned were two terms into their first teaching job.

The report said: "Incidents are not isolated to particular local authorities or types of schools."

Several teachers said they were already considering quitting state schools for the private sector, while others reported poor behaviour had affected their health.

One described teaching as "75 per cent crowd control".

Another said: "After wanting to be a teacher all my life I now feel that I am not paid or respected enough by the Government to put up with this type of behaviour."

Only 14 per cent of NQTs said their teacher-training course had prepared them to manage behaviour in schools. This compared to 45 per cent who described it as adequate and 41 per cent who said they were poorly prepared.

NQTs were more positive about their support from schools. Two-thirds said they had received extra training and 87 per cent said the support they received was at least adequate.

What the NQTs want

* more observations of classes with teachers who are particularly good at managing bad behaviour.

* greater use of role plays to help trainees act assertively and deal with real situations.

* better teaching of step-by-step strategies to deal with bad behaviour and a discussion of options for different situations.

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