Official figures ‘hiding disruption in schools’

Disruptive behaviour in the classroom could be worse than official reports suggest according to a newly published study.

More than half of the respondents to a survey of student teachers, asked about their experiences of schools either as young professionals or as pupils, said they had often been in lessons where the teacher was not in complete control of the class.

Some 25 per cent, when asked to consider their own school days, said fewer than half of their lessons were under the relaxed, comfortable charge of their teachers.

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The statistics were revealed today at the British Educational Research Association’s (BERA) annual conference in Manchester.

Almost 250 teachers were surveyed for the latest findings from nearly a decade of research by Prof Terry Haydn.

Data from the schools inspectorate, Ofsted, show that 99.7 per cent of schools have pupil behaviour which is described by inspectors as at least satisfactory, while the Steer Report, published in 2009 following an inquiry commissioned by the Labour government, found that “the overall standard of behaviour achieved by schools is good”.

Prof Haydn believes these statements may present a misleading picture.

He believes schools take steps to minimise poor behaviour during Ofsted visits.

The BERA conference will also be presented with research into the impact of attempts to promote competition with the higher education sector.

Researchers say that attempts to break up the hierarchy of universities in England by promoting competition among them for students have had no effect,

Academics claim moves towards a more market-based system in higher education since 1998 have not changed the pecking order of institutions, with little sign of universities winning or losing ground in student affections,

Research from Edinburgh University claims students have simply continued to prioritise older universities which traditionally have had more prestige, especially those among the Russell Group.

Their research also found that the higher education sector in both England and Scotland was “highly stratified” with older universities having a larger proportion of pupils from private schools.