Education & Family

Poor parenting 'fuels rise in violent behaviour'

Boys fighting
Image caption Teachers say pupils can lack discipline

Poor parenting and family breakdown is fuelling a rise in violent bad behaviour in UK schools, a survey says.

A third of teachers polled for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said they had dealt with violence like pushing, punching or kicking this year.

ATL head Mary Bousted said some pupils had a "total disregard" for school rules.

They were as likely to be "overindulged middle class" pupils as disadvantaged ones, she added.

The teaching union surveyed 814 teachers and support staff at UK schools on the issue, and heard tales of violence in the classroom.

More than half said they felt behaviour had worsened in the past five years.

One teaching assistant at a state primary in England said: "A pupil once hit me in the back totally unexpectedly, because I asked her to put a book away. I was so winded and hurt that I couldn't carry on that day."

Another, at a school in Wales, said: "I had a female student threaten to kick the smile off my face, in front of the whole class."

While a teacher at an English state secondary recalled "six boys refusing to work, throwing glue, pens, fighting and throwing books".

When teachers were asked about the root cause of poor behaviour, three-quarters (72.9%) blamed a lack of positive role models at home.

And nearly two-thirds (62.7%) said that breakdown of relationships within a family was a main cause.

'Lack of respect'

Some 73% said pupils behaved badly because they were seeking attention from their classmates and 42% blamed neglect at home as a factor.

A member of a school management team in England said: "A change in pupils' behaviour is not helped by the lack of respect that parents show towards staff in school - there is no wonder that some pupils are rude when this is what they see as a role model."

Dr Bousted said: "A minority of children are very aware of their rights, have a total disregard for school rules and are rather less aware of their responsibility for their own learning and how to show respect to staff and other students.

"This can apply as much to overindulged middle class children as those from challenging families.

"It is not surprising to see that poor behaviour is often attributed to problems at home.

"Teachers need to work with parents to encourage good behaviour and parents should be acting as good role models by supporting staff and helping them create a more positive learning environment for their children."

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Unless there is good behaviour in schools, teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn. We want to put teachers back in control of the classroom.

"That is why we are toughening up discipline powers so that teachers are better able to deal quickly with bad behaviour.

"Schools can now issue no notice detentions, we have clarified the guidance on use of force and we are giving teachers more search powers."

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