Classroom crackdown

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
September 21, 2011, 11:11 PM GMT+0

UK parents and schoolchildren want teachers to be tougher when it comes to classroom discipline, new research for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) shows.

We asked 2,014 UK parents with children in secondary school education, and 530 children currently studying at secondary schools.

  • Almost all parents (93%) and over two-thirds of pupils (68%) believe that teachers should be allowed to demonstrate more authority at school
  • In terms of what is acceptable, 49% of parents even think that corporal punishment (such as smacking and caning) should be reintroduced as a form of classroom discipline for very bad behaviour
  • 19% of secondary school pupils agree with this
  • 85% of parents believe that teachers are now less respected than they were when ‘they were at school’
  • 91% of parents are troubled that teachers have become more fearful of the children they are in charge of
  • Parents support teachers in maintaining classroom discipline and back sending children out of class (89%), after-school detention (88%), suspension and expulsion (84%), writing lines (77%) and shouting (55%)

Broadly, the schoolchildren we asked agree with their parents.

The majority feel it is appropriate for teachers to discipline their classmates through suspension and expulsion (62%), lesson exclusion (79%), after-school detention (60%) and lines (57%). Two in five think it is acceptable to shout at them (41%).

However, embarrassing children in front of others is deemed unacceptable as a classroom sanction by most parents, with 71% of parents and 75% of secondary school pupils surveyed agreeing.

Support for teachers

Teachers are especially supported by the parents asked, with 88% thinking that teachers play a vital role in determining the strength of our future economy and society and 71% believing that teachers should have a higher self-image with regard to their profession.

Almost half (45%) feel that teachers should be exempt from cuts in public service pensions and salaries, while a third (33%) of parents would support industrial action taken by teaching staff over other groups of workers.

The results appear to demonstrate that many parents would back Education Secretary Michael Gove’s plans to restore a ‘culture of adult authority in our schools’.

Gerard Kelly, TES Editor, commented on the findings, saying that ‘These results show that parents want today’s teachers to have more authority in the classroom. It’s not about making school life miserable but about showing children that sanctions will be enforced and that their actions will have consequences.’

He added, ‘Teacher-bashing has become a fashionable sport in recent years and a lot of blame for many of society’s problems has been placed unfairly at the door of the teaching profession.

‘So it is particularly heartening to see parents not only recognising the efforts that teachers put in but also appreciating how vital their role is.’