The all consuming issue of behaviour in schools


I’ve worked in several different types of schools. Some have been ‘challenging’. This is a code word for ‘many students with behaviour issues’ which is a code word for ‘can’t follow school rules’. Whether they can’t be quiet when a teacher talks or throws chairs around the classroom, their behaviour is unacceptable.

But the effects of poor behaviour go well beyond being told to ‘Fuck off’ by a child. It’s all-pervading in our teaching, in our schools and worst of all, in our private lives. Here are some thoughts why….

It takes time to record

Triplicate statements.Email, paper, MIS. Whatever happened in a second in your classroom will probably take at least an extra 10 minutes of your day to record. Following it up will take even longer.

One student has the power to affect everyone else’s learning
Things won’t move on in a classroom whilst a student is disrupting. Everything slows down. Sometimes you can’t do any teaching at all.

It makes staff feel bad even depressed

No-one likes having to deal with poor behaviour, especially if it becomes personal to you. Teachers are humans and have feelings. Bad behaviour makes us feel bad.

It has the power to all pervade your outlook on your day/week/whole job

Ever thought ‘this is my worst day on my timetable’? ‘ Ever thought ‘I hate week 1’? One student’s behaviour has the power to make us feel negatively towards many children and other aspects of our job that have nothing to do with them.

In can be very sad

This sounds flippant; it’s not supposed to be. It can be heartbreaking to hear that children are behaving in a particular  way because that what is happening to them at home. Telling you to ‘fuck off’ is exactly what  they’re told every day by people who are supposed to love them. There are some heartbreaking situations out there which we as teachers can do nothing about.

In some cases it stops teachers teaching

Temporarily in a lesson but also as a career. When there’s pore behaviour, being passionate a pure your subject isn’t enough.

In serious cases, it can change a teacher’s life forever

Unfortunately for some, the physical and mental scars resulting from poor behaviour will change their life forever. In deeply sad cases people have lost their lives.
It can give a false sense of all student behaviour

‘My year 9 class are awful’. ‘Year 8 are an awful year group’. These sorts of sweeping generalisations are common amongst teachers. It usually comes down to a handful of students.
Teachers spend time talking about it

Yes we should be talking about children but ideally it should be about their learning. How many meetings and break times and PPAs do teachers spend talking about the negative behaviour?
It determines what and how you teach

If you have a tough class there will be things you most definitely would not do with them. How sad is that? Differentiation by behaviour.

Without consistency, behaviour systems don’t work

Whilst you’re busily following the system, there are others that aren’t. Every time they don’t, they undermine everything you do. Leaders are too busy with the behaviour instead of dealing with the staff that aren’t being consistent.

Children thrive on inconsistency. “Why should I? Mr Smith doesn’t tell me off for it….”

Many schools have woeful behaviour systems

Some of the schools that need it the most do not have clear, manageable systems. Behaviour will never improve without them and it being consistently applied.

Until you’ve worked in a school with serious behaviour issues you really have no idea what it’s like

I see many people commenting on behaviour in schools. I genuinely don’t believe you know what it’s like to deal with poor behaviour unless you’ve worked in a school with serious behaviour issues. You don’t know how it works, how it feels and most importantly I think you can only offer limited advice on how to deal with it.

All of these reasons are why, if poor behaviour isn’t dealt with, a school will never improve overall. It’s the underlying factor that cannot be ignored and if there is no-one on the leadership that understand this it will carry on seriously impacting teachers, students and the whole school.

If we asked the people leaving the profession ‘Why?’, how many would cite one or many of these reasons?

One thought on “The all consuming issue of behaviour in schools

  1. ‘Until you’ve worked in a school with serious behaviour issues you really have no idea what it’s like.’

    This is true but a school with serious issues is only caused by the school not having strong behaviour systems that are applied consistently.

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