UK and western Europe join US at back of class on behaviour

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
Pisa top 10 includes only Far East and former communist countries

No countries from North America or western Europe have made it into the top 10 best-performing nations on classroom behaviour.

A new league table, produced alongside the Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey of academic ability, concludes that such nations - including the UK - have again been outperformed by the Far East and those formerly on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

Pupil questionnaires carried out as part of Pisa - an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) programme - show that the UK lags behind countries such as Japan, Romania, China and Thailand for the quality of relationships between teachers and pupils, noise and disorder and the amount of time it takes for a lesson to begin.

Japan scored highest on all but one of the surveys.

John Bangs, education trade union representative at the OECD, said cultural differences between countries explained the rankings.

"In countries, such as Finland, lively behaviour is more likely to be accepted, whereas elsewhere it would be perceived as disruptive," he said.

"It's interesting that many of the countries at the top of the Pisa academic rankings come further towards the bottom for behaviour. We must ask questions about this correlation."

The Pisa researchers say they have found a trend towards more orderly classrooms overall, with many countries improving their ranking since the previous research in 2000. Statistics for 2009, released last month, show that discipline improved in 25 of the 38 countries in the study.

Almost 74 per cent of UK pupils said teachers did not have to wait long for them to settle. Overall, the average was higher than the OECD average of 72.6 per cent.

A total of 74 per cent of UK pupils said it was rare for children not to listen to their teacher, compared to the Pisa average of 72 per cent. Around 68 per cent said noise and disorder "never" or "hardly ever" occurred in "some lessons" - the same as the Pisa average.


Percentage of students who reported that their teachers never or rarely have to wait long for them to quieten down:

TOP 10 - %

Japan - 93

Kazakhstan - 91

Shanghai, China - 90

Hong Kong - 89

Romania - 89

South Korea - 88

Azerbaijan - 88

Thailand - 86

Albania - 86

Russia - 85

UK (32nd place) - 74

OECD average - 73.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today