Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Parent blamed over unruly pupils

More than half of the school staff questioned said that student behaviour has worsened in the last 10 years

A lack of boundaries at home is fuelling naughty behaviour in the classroom, teachers have warned.

Schools are being forced to deal with the fall-out of parents failing to set rules for their children and a breakdown in family life, according to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

A new survey, conducted by the union ahead of its conference, also suggests that behavioural and emotional problems, attention seeking and a dearth of positive role model are contributing to bad behaviour in schools.

Teachers have been forced to deal with youngsters - in some cases pre-schoolers - pushing, scratching, punching, kicking and spitting, the poll suggests.

More than half (53%) of the school staff questioned said student behaviour has worsened in the last 10 years, with a similar proportion (53.2%) indicating it has got worse in the past five years.

At the same time, there has been a rise in the numbers of children with emotional, behavioural or mental health problems, the survey suggests, with over half (55.5%) saying they have seen an increase in the last five years.

Many of the school staff questioned laid blame for poor behaviour on parents.

Over three quarters (78.7%) said a lack of boundaries at home was the reason for challenging, disruptive and abusive behaviour by pupils. Just over two thirds (68.3%) blamed emotional problems, and the same proportion said it was down to behavioural issues. Around six in 10 (63.9%) said it was caused by pupils trying to get attention from other students, 61.2% cited lack of role models at home, and 60.8% blamed family breakdowns.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: "Regrettably teachers and support staff are suffering the backlash from deteriorating standards of behaviour. They are frequently on the receiving end of children's frustration and unhappiness, and have to deal with the fall-out from parents failing to set boundaries and family breakdowns. And the huge funding cuts to local services mean that schools often have to deal with children's problems without any help."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Disruptive or violent behaviour has no place whatsoever in the classroom. That is why we have strengthened teachers' powers to put them back in charge. Teachers can now issue no notice detentions, search a pupil without consent when they suspect they may be in possession of a prohibited item and changes to the system mean a school's decision to exclude a pupil cannot be reversed by an appeals panel."

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