Japan tops pupil behaviour league table

Japanese pupils Japanese pupils are the best behaved in the world, according to an international study

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Teenagers' classroom behaviour is getting better rather than worse, according to a global study that places Japan at the top of the league.

A report from economic forum the OECD found there was less disruption in classes in 2009 compared with the results of a previous study in 2000.

Pupils in the UK were better behaved than the international average.

But Asian countries and regions dominated the top places in this good-behaviour league.

The OECD has produced an analysis of behaviour statistics gathered as part of its international PISA study, which compares the performance of education systems.

Popular belief 'wrong'

It looked at the level of classroom disruption in terms of how much teachers had to wait for 15-year-old pupils to "quieten down" during lessons.


  • Japan
  • Kazakhstan
  • Shanghai-China
  • Hong Kong-China
  • Romania
  • South Korea
  • Azerbaijan
  • Thailand
  • Albania
  • Russian Federation

Source: OECD

The study found that despite widespread concerns about bad behaviour, teenagers were less likely to be noisy and disruptive than a similar international analysis in 2000.

"Popular belief has it that every successive crop of students is less disciplined than the one before it, and that teachers are losing control over their classes. But popular belief has it wrong," says the OECD report.

"Between 2000 and 2009, discipline in school did not deteriorate - in fact, in most countries it improved."

But there were wide differences between the 38 countries and regional school systems ranked in the study.

Asian countries and regions account for seven out of the top 10 places. The other three in the top 10 are eastern European.

With two Chinese school systems in the top four - Shanghai and Hong Kong - it reflects the emergence of China as an up-and-coming education superpower.

In the PISA study's measurement of literacy skills, published in December, Shanghai was the top-rated school system in the world.

In this behaviour study, the UK is in equal 28th place, with a score that puts pupil behaviour above the average - behind the US and Germany but ahead of countries such as France and Italy.

Within the UK's performance, the study found significant differences in behaviour in school, depending on the social background of the intake.

Breaking down the UK figure, researchers found that the 25% of schools serving the most advantaged pupils had much better behaviour than the 25% of schools serving the most disadvantaged pupils.

At the lower end of this league table there are several Scandinavian countries - which are more usually found in the upper reaches of international education comparisons.

Finland, usually at the top of global school rankings, is in the bottom three, with only Argentina and Greece identified as having more classroom disruption.

But the overall trend is upward, with less disruption, argues the report.

"The bottom line," says the study, is that the research provides "no evidence to support the notion that discipline in school is a growing problem".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    It is very difficult to make meaningful comparisons between different education systems, operating in different cultural and economic contexts. Therefore this survey should be taken with a pinch of salt. However it is interesting that it contradicts the image portrayed by the tabloid press, who use extreme, rare events to con us into thinking our schools are terrible & teenagers lack discipline.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I have to say, as a relative newbie to the teaching profession in the UK (2 years), I am concerned at the level of negativity in some of these comments regarding our education system. Pupil behaviour is no worse than when I was a student (1989-2001) - in fact it seems much better generally. Yes there are individuals who cause problems, but some here are making out that education is falling apart.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    This is not a good measure of classroom disruption; it is culturally not considered rude in Italy for people to talk at the same time, whereas Japanese has very formal communication protocols in the language. To compare across cultures you need a measure of disruption which is the same for everybody ... sociology gives science a bad name.

  • Comment number 39.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Having spent a deal of tme in Japan this is not a surprise. They obey the rules never do the use pedestrain crossings against the red for instance.
    I have never felt threatened at all anywhere any time in Japan. Its easy to say they are compliant and blindly obedient. I think its more than that its something in their nature that makes society work better than here.


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