Britain’s schools are facing an epidemic of bad behaviour but it’s NOT all about poor parenting & screens!

Like it? Share it!

Britain’s schools are facing an epidemic of bad behaviour.

As a former Deputy Head & Class teacher for over 22 years I read with interest this new research.

Poor behaviour seems to have worsened in recent years. A poll of 500 primary school teachers found that, since the pandemic, 84 per cent believe attention span has shortened and 85 per cent have seen an increase in low-level disruption, such as shouting out and not being able to take turns.

This is a problem.

40,000 teachers left the profession last year – the highest since records began – and yet the government failed to meet its recruitment target by 40 per cent. Those who are in the profession are struggling; workforce data from the Department of Education shows a 60 per cent rise in teacher sick days this year.

This article in The Spectator  suggests that so many of the behaviour problems schools face come down to two factors: inadequate parenting and increased screen time…. Do you agree?

And if so, what is the answer?

I don’t necessarily agree.

By constantly shaming schools we do overlook an  important factor in a child’s life: the role of the parents & yes screen-time is a huge problem.

However I suggest these factors also need to be considered:

While inadequate parenting and increased screen time are indeed factors that can contribute to behavioural problems in schools, it’s important to note that there are numerous other factors that can also play a role.

Here are some additional factors that can contribute to behavioural problems in schools:

Socioeconomic factors:

Students from disadvantaged backgrounds may face various challenges such as poverty, limited access to resources, unstable home environments & lack of support systems. These factors can contribute to behavioural issues in schools.

Peer influence:

Peer pressure and negative influences from classmates can lead to behavioural problems. Students may engage in disruptive behaviour or adopt negative attitudes & values due to the influence of their peers.

Academic stress:

High academic expectations, excessive workload & pressure to perform well in exams can cause stress and anxiety among students. This can manifest as behavioural problems such as aggression, withdrawal, or academic dishonesty.


Experiences of bullying, whether physical, verbal, or cyberbullying, can have a significant impact on a student’s behaviour. Victims of bullying may display behavioural issues as a result of the emotional trauma they endure.

Mental health issues:

Undiagnosed conditions, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or untreated mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, or conduct disorders, can contribute to behavioural problems in schools. These conditions can affect a student’s ability to focus, regulate emotions & engage positively in the classroom.

Lack of support & resources:

Inadequate support systems within schools, including limited access to counsellors, psychologists & intervention programmes can hinder efforts to address and manage behavioural problems effectively.

Cultural and societal influences:

Cultural norms, societal pressures & media influences can shape students’ behaviour. Factors such as violence in media, societal expectations & cultural attitudes toward discipline can impact how students behave in school.

Family dynamics:

Besides inadequate parenting, various family-related issues can contribute to behavioural problems. These may include family conflict, divorce or separation, substance abuse, neglect, or abuse. Difficulties within the family environment can spill over into a student’s behaviour at school.

Traumatic experiences:

Students who have experienced traumatic events such as physical or sexual abuse, neglect, loss of a loved one, or exposure to violence may exhibit behavioural problems as a result of unresolved trauma.

Lack of engagement and relevance:

When students feel disengaged from the learning process or perceive it as irrelevant to their lives, they may display disruptive behaviour or as a way of expressing their dissatisfaction

It’s important to recognise that each student is unique, and the factors contributing to their behavioural problems can vary significantly.

Addressing behavioural issues in schools requires a comprehensive and individualised approach that considers multiple factors and provides appropriate support and interventions.

Good effective communication builds the bridge between school and home. It avoids the “them and us” situation and brings parents on board as it builds the ‘we team’ of parents & teachers working together to support good behaviour & developing a happy, confident resilient student  – today’s child tomorrows adult.

Related Articles

The Sue Atkins

Parenting Show

Discussing every possible aspect of parenting, giving you advice and support on topics which affect your daily life. Each free, weekly episode is bursting with practical tips, techniques and ideas.

Hi, I'm Sue Atkins

I will teach you my no-nonsense, simple techniques & give you hundreds of my expert parenting articles, videos & podcasts so you can get back to the business of having fun with your family!

As Seen or heard in