Some schools and teachers ignore the magnitude of bad behaviour taking place in their classrooms, flattering official statistics and fooling Ofsted inspectors, according to the government’s newly appointed expert on pupil behaviour.
“When Ofsted come calling, loads and loads of schools hoover up the naughtiest kids before inspections,” said Tom Bennett, named by education secretary Nicky Morgan as head of a task force to improve teacher training on classroom behaviour in England.
“From my own experience I’ve known schools that have had very patchy behaviour but they’ve had good ratings simply because the inspectors have only seen certain lessons or certain situations, which are often quite artificial.”
According to Bennett, who also spent six years running nightclubs in Soho, the official paper trail a school is supposed to leave will simply not exist, “because if a school is very bad at recording bad behaviour then it will look pristine. Whereas the opposite might be true”.
“A lot of schools don’t record as much bad behaviour as they should, because they know it’s not going to make them look good. I hate to say it but they do.
“Some teachers are afraid to even record bad behaviour, because they don’t want to look bad.”
The problem can start from early in a teacher’s career, with some schools too willing to throw inexperienced teachers into the toughest situations. Bennett – himself a veteran of teaching in Essex comprehensives – said that inexperienced staff can be “torn apart” without sufficient support.
“A lot of new teachers are given these kind of positions because some headteachers think that’s how