Seven out of 10 teachers want to quit, survey shows

Tories promise more powers to deal with badly behaved children as study finds that classroom stress is at an all-time high
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The Independent Online

Seven out of 10 teachers said they have considered quitting because of badly behaved pupils, as Michael Gove, the Education Secretary announced that the "no touch" rules around children in the classroom will be scrapped.

A survey of teachers found that more than 90 per cent believe classroom behaviour has worsened during their careers, more than a third took time off work, over 40 per cent tried to move to another school, while 81.2 per cent experienced stress, anxiety or depression.

The 2010 Behaviour Survey interviewed more than 350 teachers. A third of teachers also think they should be given powers to search pupils for pornography, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol, with 42 per cent saying powers to search for stolen property and threatening objects were essential. The survey was conducted by the Teacher Support Network (TSN) Parentline Plus and the National Union of Teachers (NUT)

Julian Stanley, TSN's chief executive, said: We know from the marked increase in the use of our behaviour-related services over the past year, that poor behaviour is at the heart of many teachers' health and wellbeing issues. We are concerned that poor behaviour is leading some great teachers to leave the profession. Parents and teachers need to work together to create safe, respectful schools, where teachers, and by extension their children, can reach their full potential."

The survey comes as Mr Gove said the coalition government planned to give teachers a right to anonymity when faced with allegations from pupils. He also likened the current 1,000-page regulations to a copy of War and Peace.

He said: "I don't believe you should be able to hit children, but I do believe teachers need to know they can physically restrain children, they can interpose themselves between two children that may be causing trouble, and they can remove them from the classroom. The important thing is that teachers know they are in control, and this department and the justice system will back them."

However, some teachers queried Mr Gove's pronouncement, saying appropriate force could always be used to restrain a child if they are a danger to themselves or others.

Louise Purnell, 36, primary school supply teacher from Surrey

"The behaviour can be challenging even in primary schools. What's most important is having back-up from the school, other teachers and the head, and knowing that there is a clear behaviour policy. I've had some tough days when I wondered whether it was worth it: I've have had situations that got to me and I found it very stressful, but I don't regret going into teaching. The support is key. As long as the support is there, then it's fine.

"This is the most challenging job I've ever had. It can be emotionally draining when there are behaviour issues if teachers are not properly supported. Children and young people often try to push the boundaries and it's a teacher's job to give them those boundaries. Children need that.

"Training is very important. While there's nothing like hands-on experience to develop ways of managing behaviour that are positive, you need good teacher training."