Supply teachers give the most honest account of pupil behaviour

Child with sling shot

Pupil behaviour is a perennial topic in schools. But reports on behaviour between senior staff and those on the ground vary widely. The government’s DfE behaviour tsar has said school Governors should speak to supply teachers if they want to know the truth about behaviour in the classroom.

Behaviour tsar, and Tes columnist, Tom Bennett said he had seen much evidence of poor governance in schools. He highlighted the fact that some governors do not visit their schools during normal opening hours at all, and many that do are led around the school and only shown good classes.

The Department for Education requires governing bodies of maintained schools (local authority funded) to publish a statement of behaviour principles for their school.

Mr Bennett is urging governors to seek an honest and truthful picture of any behavioural problems in their school so any issues can be reflected in future school behavioural policies. At the recent Festival of Education, he told the audience: “Go and see transitions. Go and see the start of the day and the end of the day. Go and see the NQTs. Go and see the supply teachers.

“Go to your local supply agency and ask them ‘what’s behaviour at my school like?’ I promise you, it will blister you.”

In an interview with The Telegraph last year, Mr Bennett spoke out about behaviour in schools, saying pupil behaviour in England is a national problem, which isn’t being taken seriously enough.

In a report Mr Bennett said teachers were afraid that telling pupils what to do would curtail their freedom. But he argued that expecting good behaviour is not oppressive and that pupils had to be taught “self-restraint or self-regulation” in order to be “truly free”.

Naughty pupils in class at the elementary school
The report carried out by Bennett gave an independent review of behaviour in schools. His paper, Creating a Culture: how school leaders can optimise behaviour was published last year. In it he states that how a school is run is an even greater determinant of school behaviour than any one of a number of well-trained staff working in isolation.

Why does behaviour in school matter? The way students behave in school is strongly linked to their academic outcomes. The culture found in successful schools included visible leaders, consistent practices, effective communication and high and detailed expectations, high levels of support staff, parental commitment and thoroughness in the execution of school policies.

Understanding that there is a behavioural problem in the first place is key in enabling schools to turn the tide. Governors should ask supply teachers for an honest account.

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