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Classroom discipline crisis caused by 'middle-class parents buying off their children'


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Classroom discipline crisis caused by 'middle-class parents buying off their children'



By Laura Clark

Last updated at 5:35 PM on 22nd March 2010





Middle-class parents are fuelling a classroom discipline crisis by 'buying off' their children with TVs and computers, a teachers' leader warned today.

A generation of well-off pupils is failing to abide by school rules and accept the authority of teachers because they are used to being indulged at home, according to Dr Mary Bousted.

Her union will next week debate a motion calling on the Government to dock the child benefit of parents who fail to discipline their children and force them to attend parenting classes.



A generation of well-off pupils is failing to abide by school rules and accept the authority of teachers because they are used to being indulged at home, according to teachers' leaders. (Posed by model)


Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will say disruptive pupils and their parents too often face 'no consequences' for their actions.

They will reveal how teachers are routinely interrupted and sworn at, and sometimes assaulted, by pupils who have never been taught to 'give and take'.

Other pupils turn up to school 'dead tired' because they have been allowed to stay up late.

Speaking ahead of ATL's annual conference next week, Dr Mary Bousted, the union's general secretary, said parents had a 'duty' to ensure their children are brought up understanding 'where proper authority lies' and 'how they should behave in school'.

But some parents fail to support the rights of teachers or other pupils in the class to learn.

'It's often the well-off middle-class who buy off their children through the computers and televisions and everything which isolates them within the home,' she said.

'And then they are surprised when their child doesn't come to school ready to learn.'

She warned that children were leading 'increasingly isolated lives' at home, 'never having a family meal, having television or computer in their bedrooms, stuck for hours in the bedroom in front of the computer screen, and not learning about give and take within the family'.

She went on: 'If you don't learn about give and take within the family you can't learn about it in school, you can't practise proper behaviour in school, where you're not going to get exactly what you want, when you want, and how you want it, when you do have to get on with other pupils, and when you do have to accept the authority of the teacher who is responsible for the whole class.'

She said teachers 'worked their socks off' and then felt 'frustrated' when parents failed to support them.

Provocatively, she added: 'If you go into a pet shop you have to prove you are going to be able to take care of your dog before they sell you a puppy.

'But there's no minimum standard for being a parent, unless you are so awful the state takes the child away from you.

'It's not that children are born bad, it's that when children behave badly at school, they are very often the results of very poor parenting.'

She added that 85 per cent of a child's attainment was decided before they actually start school.

'It's not to say schools aren't important, it's not to say schools can't do a lot. But those conditions for that achievement are created in the home,' she said.

ATL members will debate a call next week for 'the benefits system to be adjusted so that the parents of disruptive pupils lose part of their child benefit'.

Stuart Hart, the secretary of ATL's Cheshire branch, which put forward the motion, said: 'Child benefit is a universal benefit. It's not targeted at any particular class of society, and we don't think bad behaviour is seen in one particular class.

'If a parent keeps a child off school without good medical reason, they can be fined or sent to prison.

'But a child who is behaving badly is not only affecting themselves but other people's children.

'But there are no consequences. We want children to know that no means no, not perhaps or yes.

'We want parents to think they are being hurt, in form of less child benefit, because their child is not behaving.'

Mr Hart, a secondary school maths teacher, said: 'In the worst cases, I have had members who have been assaulted, members who have been sworn at and members who have been threatened.'

Mr Hart went on to accuse the Government of putting schools under too much pressure - often in the form of financial penalties - to avoid expelling troublemakers.

The worst-behaved youngsters needed to be taught in a different environment, and yet schools were being increasingly charged for that provision, he warned.

'Why should that particular school pick up the bill for that scenario?' he said.

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