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Is pupil behaviour getting worse in UK primary schools?

Child alone outside school
Teachers in England say the behaviour of pupils in their classroom is getting worse. First News, the UK’s leading source of news for children, digs deeper to uncover this story in detail.

In a BBC survey of 9,000 primary and secondary teachers, almost one in five of them said that they had been hit by pupils this year.

Compared to two years ago, a greater number of teachers reported fights between pupils at school – and nearly a third (30%) of those surveyed said they had witnessed pupils fighting in the same week that they responded to the survey.

Pupils as young as five and six are swearing

Lorraine Meah, a primary school supply teacher in the Midlands, said that pupils as young as five and six years old are swearing, spitting and throwing chairs. She said: “You’ll get three or four children in your class displaying challenging behaviour. That’s hard to deal with when you’ve got a class of 30.”

Another teacher described how a pupil tried to break back into a classroom with a cricket bat after being sent out for bad behaviour.

Classroom violence worse since the pandemic

Dr Patrick Roach, the general secretary of the NASUWT told the BBC that teachers have reported that classroom violence has become worse since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2020, the Department for Education launched a £10m scheme to allow schools that are struggling with bad behaviour to ‘team up’ with others and share methods to improve it – but the scheme ends this year.

Read the full story and more in this week's First News