Pupils and teachers deserve to work in calm, ordered classrooms

8th May 2009 at 01:00

My main reservation about the Steer Report was its decision to highlight the recent Ofsted finding that unsatisfactory behaviour was only found in 1 per cent of primary schools and 6 per cent of secondary schools ("Unruly pupils are driving teachers out of the profession", May 1). My research suggests that pupil behaviour is an issue for many schools and that there are more than 6 per cent of secondaries where it is sometimes difficult for teachers to get the best possible climate for learning.

Severe disruption does not occur in the overwhelming majority of schools, but there are many where teachers are not always in completely assured control of the lesson. This is not necessarily due to inadequate teachers or bad schools, but because teachers often have to make quite difficult decisions about how to keep all pupils in the classroom without allowing some of them to impede the learning of others. Many schools contain pupils who are not keen to learn, and who do not find learning in classrooms easy.

The working atmosphere in the classroom is important. Deficits in classroom climate limit the amount of learning that takes place, lead to inequalities of educational opportunity and have an adverse effect on the quality of teachers' working lives.

There is some evidence to suggest that classroom climate is a bigger problem in the UK than in the countries that outscore us in international tests. Calm, ordered classrooms where effective learning can take place are what the overwhelming majority of parents, pupils, teachers and policymakers want, but until the scale, nature and complexity of this issue is acknowledged, these deficits are likely to persist.

I designed the 10-point discipline scale to evince a chord of recognition among teachers and student teachers. I think that there are many who would recognise at least the four top levels on the scale, a full version of which can be found at: www.uea.ac.ukm242historypgceclass_management10pointscale.htm

Terry Haydn, Teacher trainer, University of East Anglia.

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