Were young people better behaved in school in the past?
‘Winchester [the public school] was often hit by serious disturbances, one rising there in 1818 required the intervention of soldiers armed with fixed bayonets before order was restored’ (Tubbs, 1996, p.12).
Is breaking the law common?
‘It is probably a minority of children who grow up without ever behaving in ways which may be contrary to the law’ (HMSO, 1969, p.3).
Do we demonise children?
‘It is crucial not to demonise children…. There are issues of behaviour that need to be addressed but the vast majority of children are as supportive, idealistic and inspirational as young people have ever been.’
(Sir Alan Steer, former head teacher and leader of the school disciplinary task force, 2005, p.1)
Do some schools need a police officer on the school site?
‘Police were called to deal with violence in schools more than 7,000 times last year.....................teaching unions described the statistics as scaremongering and said schools were safe places. ...............Fear of violence among teenagers has been exacerbated by numerous high-profile stabbings and similar gang-related crimes’ (The Independent, 2008, paras. 1,5 & 6).
‘Beat officers being assigned to secondary schools in Southwark... has led to an improvement in behaviour.....Police have been able to assist staff with truancy reduction work, support the on-site learning support unit and run specialist days on topics such as anti-bullying, anti-drugs and accidents and emergencies (Teachernet, 2010, paras. 1& 3).
Have standards of behaviour in schools improved in recent years?
‘.....there is strong evidence from a range of sources that the overall standards of behaviour achieved by schools is good and has improved in recent years’ (Steer, 2009, p.4).
Is problematic behaviour in schools largely a question of ‘discipline’ and redressing the balance of power between teachers and children?
‘The greatest concern voiced by new teachers and a very common reason experienced teachers cite for leaving the profession is poor pupil behaviour. We know that a minority of pupils can cause serious disruption in the classroom. The number of serious physical assaults on teachers has risen. And poorly disciplined children cause misery for other pupils by bullying them and disrupting learning. It is vital that we restore the authority of teachers and head teachers. And it is crucial that we protect them from false allegations of excessive use of force or inappropriate contact. Unless we act more good people will leave the profession – without good discipline teachers cannot teach and pupils cannot learn’ (DfE, 2010a, p. 6).