Education & Family

Japan tops pupil behaviour league table

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

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.

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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