Teachers blame staff cuts for bad behaviour in schools

Secondary classroom
Image caption Council body Cosla insisted there was no "systematic problem" in schools

The EIS teaching union has claimed that cuts in staff are making it harder to deal with bad behaviour in schools.

The union blames falling teacher numbers, support staff cuts and falling numbers of educational psychologists.

One particular concern is that pupils who might be better suited to special schools are remaining in mainstream schools without appropriate support.

Local authority organisation Cosla said the EIS was not "talking up" the good behaviour of school pupils.

The EIS is gathering information on indiscipline to get a sense of the extent of the problem but did say it supported keeping children in mainstream education whenever possible.

'Challenging behaviour'

The union found that most incidents were "low-level" in nature, such as talking or texting in class, but that dealing with them could take up far too much of a teacher's time during the school week.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Reductions in staffing - including a decline in teacher numbers, deep cuts to specialist support staff, and the fall in the number of professional educational psychologists - are exacerbating the problems that many schools face in supporting pupils who have displayed challenging behaviour.

"With teacher numbers falling and class sizes rising, schools and teachers will face an ever-greater challenge in maintaining effective discipline in the classroom.

"That is bad news for staff, with indiscipline one of the key causes of stress for teachers, and bad news for the majority of pupils who are keen to learn."

The EIS found that the majority of pupils were normally well behaved, but that a "persistent minority" often failed to behave appropriately.

It said it was essential for all schools to have effective strategies in place to support teachers as they dealt with poor discipline.

On the issue of violence against teachers, it said a swift response was needed.

Mr Flanagan added: "Thankfully, serious disruption and violence continue to be a much less common problem than persistent low-level disruption such as talking out-of-turn or texting in class.

"However, it is essential that when serious incidents do occur, they are dealt with swiftly and firmly - including police involvement where a teacher has been physically assaulted or placed under severe threat."

Reacting to the concerns, Cosla spokesman Douglas Chapman said: "We must remember that over the years the evidence consistently shows that the vast majority of young people in schools are well behaved and eager to learn.

"We are far from being complacent but there is no systematic problem of poor behaviour in Scottish schools.

"Cosla jointly chairs with government the national group with responsibility for overseeing policy on behaviour in school.

"This group also involves the EIS and other teacher trade unions and, as with government, we are always open to discussing the concerns of teachers."

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