Heads reject Ofsted's poor classroom behaviour claims

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education correspondent

  • Published
Classroom generic
Image caption,
Ofsted is to raise concerns about low level disruption in schools

Head teachers say claims by Ofsted that schools are not doing enough to tackle poor behaviour are contradicted by the evidence of inspections.

Brian Lightman, head of the Association of School and College Leaders, rejected the education watchdog's warnings about too much low-level disruption in schools in England.

Mr Lightman says claims of tolerating bad behaviour "just don't stand up".

Ofsted is to warn that poor discipline in lessons is damaging learning.

Later this week Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw will publish a report calling for a tougher line on classroom disruption.

It will warn of pupils chatting, messing around and playing on mobile phones, rather than concentrating on their lessons.


Ofsted will warn that not enough is being done in schools to challenge this lack of attention and that there is a "culture of casual acceptance" of poor behaviour.

The education watchdog says it will also publish surveys of the views of parents and teachers on children's behaviour in school.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
Sir Michael Wilshaw will warn on classroom behaviour later this week

But this has angered teachers who say that the chief inspector's claims do not match the "evidence from his own inspection service".

"If low level disruption is as widespread as he says, it certainly isn't backed up by inspection grades, which show that pupil behaviour is one of the strongest aspects in schools," said Mr Lightman.

"Of course we want behaviour to be excellent in all schools, but to publicly berate heads and teachers for something that contradicts Ofsted's own evidence is unacceptable.

"Recruitment into the teaching profession is more difficult than at any time, and a profession which is unfairly criticised is hardly likely to attract the best and brightest graduates."

But Natalie Evans, director of the New Schools Network, which supports the opening of free schools, says there is a gap between what schools offer and the stricter discipline sought by parents.

"Ofsted's findings back up what parents are saying. In a recent poll, 93% of parents told us that they considered high standards of behaviour and discipline important or very important, but only 65% rated their child's school as good or very good at delivering these standards.

"This mismatch between what parents want and what is currently on offer is exactly what free schools are seeking to address."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union, said its own survey, with 12,000 responses, showed there was a widespread problem with low-level disruption.

But she rejected the suggestion that staff were not intervening.

"The chief inspector is, as usual, talking nonsense to suggest that teachers accept this and are failing to address it," said Ms Keates.

"What teachers do say is that getting pupils ready to learn is eating into precious teaching time and they are frequently unsupported by school leaders who too often do not teach and are divorced from the day-to-day realities of life in the classroom."