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What bothers your staff most about pupil discipline?

August 26, 2022, 10:59 GMT+1
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  • Many teachers think heads don’t do enough to support them with poor classroom conduct. Iain Ford, from Teacher Tapp, shares its findings
What bothers your staff most about pupil discipline?

The last 12 months were the most ‘normal’ year for some time and the first in the past three that wasn’t interrupted by at least one full lockdown.

But despite this, pupil behaviour continued to be a challenge, with teachers struggling to manage this in the classroom. 

At Teacher Tapp, this prompted us to ask the question, “Do headteachers need to do more to help their staff?” Here’s what we found out. 

Less experienced teachers

Learning to manage behaviour is a tough task. Not surprisingly, less experienced teachers always say that they find behaviour management more challenging than their colleagues.

Sixty-three percent of teachers with less than five years’ experience said they needed to remove a student from their classroom in a term, whereas 44% of teachers with more than 20 years’ experience said the same.

Enforcing behaviour management

One way of supporting less experienced staff is to help them enforce behaviour management. When primary teachers were asked whether leaders at their school consistently enforced behaviour management, nearly one-in-five primary teachers said they do not.

Furthermore, 28% of less experienced teachers said they wanted leaders to support them more in behaviour management.

Is behaviour getting better?

A single metric won’t tell the whole story when measuring behaviour. It remains unclear whether the pandemic led to a deterioration in conduct. In 2019, 39% of teachers admitted they had to stop a lesson because of pupil disruption.

We asked again recently and the figure had decreased – just 33% of teachers now said they had to stop a lesson for this reason. 

Growing absenteeism

Pupil absences have remained particularly high - not least because Covid has still been rearing its head. But there were other factors too.

Teachers said that absenteeism was far worse in the past year than in 2019. Disruption due to absences was worse in more socially deprived areas, where 85% of primary teachers said lateness and absence interfered with teaching.

Deteriorating conduct

Overall, just 8% of teachers thought behaviour had improved since they started their teaching career - and more than half of primary teachers said it had deteriorated. Even those who have been teaching five years or fewer said this - so it’s fair to say that it’s unclear how the pandemic has really affected behaviour.

Iain Ford is senior data and reporting analyst at Teacher Tapp. You can take part in and see the result of regular teacher surveys by signing up to the Teacher Tapp app (