The figures behind the increase in disruptive behaviour in schools

With children up and down the country throwing their school bags over their shoulder and teachers adding the final touches to the classroom displays… school’s back!

However, whilst the kids look forward to sharing stories about their holiday adventures and parents savour the thought of a much needed routine (break); many teachers and school support staff are preparing themselves for another year of being in constant fear of abuse.

As we prepare for our new training course "Improving Pupil Behaviour Management in Schools", taking place in London this October, we’ve collected some of the more notable figures surrounding disruptive behaviour in the classroom from various reports covered in The Guardian over the past few months.

“Number of children expelled from English schools hits 35 a day”

Yes, you read that right! To put that in context, “almost 6,700 children were permanently excluded from all primary, secondary and special schools in 2015/16”. This raises serious concerns about the effectiveness of our education system, especially as it represents a third consecutive year in which this rate of exclusion has risen.

There are various arguments that defend the exclusion of disruptive pupils, stating that those who are engaged and focused on their education will benefit from a healthier classroom culture - including better quality of teaching and a more inclusive learning environment.

However, with research by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) showing that “more than half of children excluded from school have mental health problems”, surely there are better ways of dealing with disruptive students whilst keeping them in the classroom.

Farhat Choudhry and Zainab Patel, Head teacher and Assistant Head teacher respectively, at The Olive Tree Primary School will be covering a case study during the one-day training course about one potential solution - the use of technology to raise behaviour standards.

“54% of teaching assistants say they have been physically abused or assaulted”

That can’t be true, surely? Well, according to a survey for the GMB union “18% of the assistants polled said they are attacked at least once a week”. This is extremely worrying considering that the ramifications for violent attacks such as punching, kicking and strangling are matters that not only involve parents, teachers and pupils; but more importantly the police.

An alarming figure released under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that “across Britain there was a 50% rise in classroom incidents recorded by the police between 2014 and 2016.” Although exclusion and police involvement is the obvious answer for these types of incidents, are there more proactive measures that could help avoid them? Especially considering that the IPRP estimate 63% of the prison population were excluded from school at some point.

Councillor David Wood, Deputy Cabinet Member for Communities, Safety and Justice and Deputy Whip at Croydon London Borough Council will be discussing safer partnerships; how to collaborate with local businesses, community and voluntary sector organisations; and how Safer School Partnerships (SSPs) are working with the police to keep young people safe and reduce crime.

“The number of temporary or fixed-period exclusions has gone up from almost 303,000 last year to just under 340,000”

Temporary exclusion can often be used for cases of constant low-level disruptive behaviour, with less significant impact on the pupil’s learning development and mental wellbeing. However, the question we must ask ourselves is why the number of these cases is on the rise.

NUT members highlight a narrowing of the curriculum and more emphasis on exams as being reasons for students being less engaged, which results in behavioural issues. Are teachers being given enough creative freedom to build an interesting, interactive classroom experience? Are budgets being cut in a way that leads to less pastoral and mental health services being available? Or is it a lack of teaching assistants on hand for those pupils who need one-to-one assistance?

Damian McBeath, Regional Director for Primary (London) at Ark will be looking at a real life case study on how to support NQTs and returning teachers in behaviour management, so that they feel capable of tackling low-level disruption in the classroom.

With expulsion, exclusion and disruptive behaviour on the rise, it’s almost inevitable that schools, local authorities and the government need to make the necessary changes to tackle this national epidemic. The way in which we deal with the behaviour of the youngest part of our society will have knock affects for years to come, and is consequently one of the most important concerns of modern day education.

Join us in central London, on Tuesday 17th October, 2017 for Improving Pupil Behaviour Management in Schools, where we will be discussing the rise in disruptive behaviour and how to tackle it.