Pupil Behaviour


  • In June 2015 Nicky Morgan, Secretary of State for Education, announced new reforms to tackle low-level disruption in classrooms.1 The Government has appointed Tom Bennett, Director of researchED, to advise the Department for Education (DfE) as its new behaviour expert and he is leading an advisory group to develop training for new teachers on how to manage behaviour.
  • Research by the University of Cambridge for the NUT, demonstrates the intrinsic relationship of behaviour to class size, inappropriate curriculum, the pressure to meet targets and the need to keep up with new initiatives.2 
  • Recent research commissioned by the NUT into the impact of accountability measures on children and young people revealed that the accountability regime placed on schools by Ofsted and the Department for Education contributes to behaviour problems.3
  • The narrowing of the curriculum and constant drive towards testing leads inevitably to disaffection and boredom amongst pupils and disruption in the classroom.
  • The DfE’s recent census shows that class sizes are rising too - overcrowded classrooms mean less teacher time for each individual pupil.4
  • Pupils’ behaviour for learning forms a critical part of the overall judgement of a school made by Ofsted.5
  • The following are essential to enable schools to ensure behaviour for learning:
    • providing teachers with the time and space to talk to other colleagues within the school, to share information and to empower each other to manage pupil behaviour;
    • maintaining a manageable class size;
    • a proactive and well supported CPD programme for teachers;
    • a curriculum which engages children and supports them to behave well. Pupils who are positively engaged in learning are less likely to have behaviour issues. Any curriculum should contain a mix of academic and vocational subjects in order to meet the needs of all pupils; and
    • a primary curriculum which is creative, broad and balanced.
  • In September 2015 Schools Minister Nick Gibb announced that Tom Bennett’s remit would include a review of the impact that smartphones have on pupil behaviour and classroom disruption. Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, has called for more schools to ban children from bringing phones to lessons.
  • Should smartphones be banned in your school? You can refer to NUT guidance on the union’s legal position with regard to searching pupils for prohibited items here.

1 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-reforms-to-raise-standards-and-improve-behaviour

2 John MacBeath and Maurice Galton with Susan Steward, Charlotte Page and Janet Edwards (April 2004)  A Life in Secondary Teaching: Finding Time for Learning.  A report commissioned by the National Union of Teachers, Cambridge: University of Cambridge. Available at: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/galton/aLiSTreport.pdf

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5 See pages 52-55 in the Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, September 2015 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-inspection-handbook-from-september-2015