General Teaching Council Northern Ireland

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Adults 'seen not heard' warning



Teachers are warning that parents are too afraid of their own children to enforce good behaviour.

They are afraid of upsetting their own children and some shirk their responsibilities, they say.

"It's almost become a case of 'adults should be seen and not heard', says Jules Donaldson, who is to address the Nasuwt teachers' union conference.

He says "urgent action" to improve behaviour is needed. A report on tackling this is published tomorrow.

Mr Donaldson, a technology teacher now working for Sandwell local education authority, says parents are passing the buck to schools to make their children behave.

"We've got to the point where some parents say 'I can't do anything, can you sort it?'"

The focus on supporting and applauding children has gone too far, he suggested, with parents becoming unable to exert control.

'Bonus culture'

He describes parents who say that they cannot get their children to school on time because they will not stop playing on computers.

"I've had to tell them there is a thing called an off switch," he said.

"Parents are not willing to accept their responsibility."

The Nasuwt union conference in Bournemouth will hear a motion on Wednesday warning that "pupil behaviour remains a major problem in schools".

It also says that most attempts to tackle this problem have "proved ineffective".

Teachers are not entertainers, we're not treading the boards
Jules Donaldson, Nasuwt

This claim that discipline is failing to improve comes as government behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer is about to deliver a report on pupil behaviour in England's schools.

Mr Donaldson also warns of a classroom version of a bonus culture, in which children expect to be rewarded for good behaviour.

Rather than expecting rewards for something special, they now want rewards for not being badly behaved, he says.

This "rewards culture", such as schools giving out fast-food vouchers for good attendance and behaviour, sends out the wrong message, he says.

"It's becoming accepted that you don't have to conform to any expected code of behaviour without a reward," he says.

Mr Donaldson rejected the idea that poor behaviour was a reflection of boring lessons.

"Teachers are not entertainers, we're not treading the boards. There are things that have to be learned," he said.

The failure to tackle bad behaviour remains a "blight on teaching and learning", the conference motion will say - and Mr Donaldson says that it is the key to raising standards.

"If we can crack behaviour, the levels of achievement will automatically increase," he said.

The union's general secretary, Chris Keates, said it was important to have a consistent approach to children's behaviour at home and at school.

She said that it was often low-level disruption that caused problems in the classroom.

"Part of the problem can be getting parents to accept that this is the way that their children are behaving at school."


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