Wednesday, May 29, 2024
9.5 C


My Account

- Advertisement -

Tackling the issue of bad classroom behaviour

A recent education report reveals major concerns about students’ classroom behaviour in New Zealand schools – and Wairarapa schools aren’t exempt.

The Education Review Office’s [ERO] Time to Focus: Behaviour in our Classrooms report – released at the end of last month – found that a quarter of New Zealand principals saw daily physical harm between students, as well as the damaging or taking of property, while half of teachers had students yelling out and distracting others during lessons.

Masterton Intermediate principal Russell Thompson said the behaviour of some students at his school, like every school, reflected what he referred to as a nationwide epidemic of being unkind.

“One of our big goals, which we are trying to work hard on, is to get our children who walk through our gate every day, some feeling quite sad, to be kind to each other.”

Thompson noted that recently – although uncommon at Masterton Intermediate – there have been a handful of college fights videoed and uploaded to social media in Wairarapa, while hundreds of fights were recorded nationwide on a daily basis.

When students tell a “one-sided story” about such incidents to parents, this gives the false impression that schools are at fault and not taking responsibility, and can mean that formal complaints are laid.

“I can guarantee that none of my staff are lazy, and my teachers work way beyond the expectations of what they get paid for,” Thompson said.

Instead, parents need to ask what they can do to help their children and how they could support the school, he said.

While a small handful of parents make dealing with such issues difficult, most are “very supportive”.

MIS’s solution to poor student behaviour has been for students to get involved in various activities, including playing sports and join cultural groups like Kapa Haka and the Polynesian group.

Lakeview School Principal Tim Nelson, meanwhile, said his school “might go against the norm,” but students’ conduct has actually shown a recent improvement rather than further deterioration.

“The classroom behaviour is the best it has ever been in the entire time I have been here,” Nelson said. “We haven’t had a staff member leave in two years.

“We had fights, and we had verbal abuse at teachers, but I can’t remember the last time a teacher was verbally abused or the last serious fight we had at school.”

Nelson attributes the change it to Lakeview’s values-based system and consistency, along with strong consequences, such as stand-downs and the early banning of cell phones.

For example, Lakeview used to have students who brought vapes to school, but since the strong consequences of a standdown were enforced, vaping has become extremely rare.

“We always have low-level behaviours, but the kids are incredibly respectful.” Nelson said.

Nelson acknowledged that the school rarely makes allowances for students breaking the rules but does offer positive rewards for good behaviour.

The ERO report included Programme for International Student Assessment [PISA] results that indicate that student behaviour in New Zealand’s classrooms has consistently been worse than that in most other OECD countries over the past decade.

It also found that challenging behaviour is a significant driver for teachers to leave the profession.

As a solution, 16 recommendations were made, including improving teacher training, a national approach to behaviour, and clear school guidance on effective consequences for poor behaviour.

Minister of Education Erica Stanford said government “action is needed” to tackle deteriorating classroom behaviour among the worst in the OECD.

“One of the recommendations I am particularly interested in is the need for a national approach to behaviour in schools to prevent, notice, and respond to challenging behaviours effectively.”

She said the report indicated that “some” of the government’s changes “would work”.

The report noted that 51 per cent of teachers said device use reduces the ability of students to concentrate and may be one of the causes of worsening behaviour.

“The government is already actioning two of the recommendations suggested by ERO to improve student behaviour – banning cell phones in classrooms and looking at how it improves teacher training.”

“We want students to focus on learning and achieving, and getting rid of cell phones in classrooms is one of the best ways to do this.”

The Ministry of Education [MoE] said it doesn’t measure incidences of classroom behaviour at a system level.

“Questions on how schools are coping with students and whether heightened behaviour has increased in schools are best answered by the schools themselves.”

However, MoE was able to provide data from age-standardised stand-down rates that show that in 2022 Masterton District had 49.5 stand-downs per 1000 students, while there were 21.4 in Carterton and 59.2 in South Wairarapa.

Related Articles

- Advertisement -
overcast clouds
9.5 ° C
11.1 °
9.5 °
78 %
96 %
10 °
13 °
16 °
18 °
12 °