Child helps around the home
Too many pupils lack proper boundaries because over-indulgent mothers and fathers “wait on them hand and foot” and no longer ask them to help around the home, it was claimed
Mary Bousted, the general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), warned of a marked decline in the number of children expected to do their share of the washing and cleaning, or work in a Saturday job. It was no surprise that pupils were so badly behaved in the classroom because “children without boundaries at home resent boundaries imposed at school”, she said.
Other teachers warned that standards of behaviour in schools have declined since the abolition of the cane in the mid-1980s because pupils no longer feared adult authority.
It follows the publication of research that showed a quarter of ATL members had been attacked at school in the past 12 months, with teachers regularly being pushed, scratched, punched, bitten, kicked and spat at.
Half of teachers said behaviour, particularly low-level disruption, had become worse in the past two years.
The biggest problems cited by teachers included children failing to pay attention, showing disrespect, using mobile phones in class and directing verbal abuse at adults. In many cases, staff said pupils were “very aware of their rights” and unafraid to challenge adult authority.
Speaking at the union’s annual conference in Manchester yesterday, Ms Bousted warned that it was hard to impose proper discipline at school without the support of parents.
She also said that “bad behaviour isn’t just the preserve of poor children and parents”, saying middle-class pupils were just as likely to run wild. “We need to be more confident in what we think is reasonable and we also need to be more confident in our expectations of children and young people,” she said.
“For example, how many parents ask their children regularly to contribute to the running of the household, doing jobs?
“It seems to be that far too many children are waited on at home hand and foot. They don’t do the washing up, they don’t do the Hoovering, they don’t make their own beds. We are not doing our children any favours if we make them little Buddhas at home and it certainly doesn’t do them any favours at school.”
Addressing the conference, other teachers claimed that children were being allowed to run wild because of the lack of a proper deterrents.
Julian Perfect, a teacher from inner London, said successive governments had failed to introduce effective methods of dealing with wayward pupils since corporal punishment was abolished.
He said he was not advocating a return of the cane, but added: “Effective teaching and learning cannot take place against a constant background of disruptive behaviour by pupils. Moreover, where such behaviour is a regular occurrence it should not be attributed to a teacher’s inability to plan and take lessons.”
The 160,000-strong ATL backed a motion calling for new research into suitable alternative disciplinary measures to alleviate the “debilitating effects on children who want to learn and teachers who want to teach”.