One of the gaps in initial teacher training in recent times has been training in behaviour management. The last coalition government scrapped the National Strategies and were content to issue a series of edicts outlining the legal powers open to schools and teachers.
I have just been reading Tom Bennett’s report for the ex-Secretary of State for Education on behaviour training in initial teacher training*. It is part of the wider review of training due to be delivered by the IETT working group.
I hope the report fares better than Nicky Morgan as it shows how to fill the gap left by the coalition government.
My impression is that classroom disruption has worsened in line with the pressures on schools. Bennett’s report cites a YouGov survey, which showed that:
- One fifth of the teachers surveyed indicated that they ignored low-level disruption and just ‘tried to carry on’
- An average secondary school might contain five or six teachers who lose at least 10 minutes of learning time per lesson as they struggle to maintain good order
- In primary schools, this averages out at nearly one teacher in every school
My response to the report and some advice for teachers going into the autumn term
Trainees need coaching in behaviour management
The report makes it clear that coaching in behaviour management skills should continue throughout initial teacher training, that teachers need opportunities to practise basic skills in low stress situations (such as in the summer term before they start in the classroom), that mentors must be able to provide a mixture of support and feedback and that the training must carry throughout a teacher’s career and include the ability to understand and work with students with a wide range of special needs.
The report also provides a useful framework for mentors based around a clear framework of routines, responses and relationships, which can easily be fleshed out to provide a strong theoretical and practical backing for the course.
What might I want to add to Bennett’s report? Three things come to mind:
1. Give new teachers the opportunity to work together in reflective groups
No matter how good the instruction provided by a mentor, that initial year of teaching is tough. My experience is that new teachers benefit hugely from the opportunity to work together in reflective groups. Readers will be familiar with Sara Bubb’s** description of how morale can sink during that first year as teachers experience extreme dissonance between their expectations and their abilities. They need emotional support and training groups are the best way to provide it.
2. Enable reflection and coaching with technology
Information technology is playing a larger role in this area. Use of video technology that can record and play back performance securely, in- ear mentoring and the use of video clubs to share experience within and across schools is a new and valuable resource that should be emphasised and developed for trainee and new teachers.
3. Hold schools to account for the quality of behaviour management training
I hope that the quality of every aspect of in-school training is included within the Ofsted Inspection Framework. School based mentors are often over-stretched and denied the resources to do a proper job. This will go on being the case until schools are held to account for the quality of the training they provide.
**Successful Induction for New Teachers. Sara Bubb
Access 6 modules, each with their own workbook, training resources and classroom video clips to model effective behaviour management strategies.