We can't compete with television, teachers complain

Children can only learn lessons delivered in sound-bites, says union chief

Children of today's television generation lack the attention span for in-depth learning, the new head of one of Britain's teaching unions has warned.

Teachers need to adopt more of a "sound-bite" style in the classroom to stop their pupils becoming bored, Julian Chapman, the president of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said.

Mr Chapman, a teacher at Cheltenham Bournside school and sixth-form college, said teachers "struggle to compete with the sort of presentations seen on television".

He told his union's annual conference in Bournemouth: "Students' concentration span appears to have been tailored to the sound and vision bite rather than the more rigorous process of in-depth learning.

"Teachers are under enormous pressure to keep students engaged and attentive at all times."

Ofsted, the education standards watchdog, had warned that the levels of misbehaviour in schools had increased as a result of pupils having to endure boring lessons.

Mr Chapman also warned that teachers had become trapped in a "treadmill" of delivering numerical targets – such as improvements in the percentage of pupils getting five A* to C grade passes at GCSE – which made it more difficult to bring more creativity to their lessons.

"If a teacher is forever trying to satisfy criteria laid down by others, it leaves precious little room for experiment and innovation in one's own delivery style," he said.

His warning about the impact of television on the modern generation of children comes just a week after another teachers' union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, agreed to seek a meeting with TV executives – claiming that the explicit content of many programmes put out before the 9pm watershed was leading to poor behaviour in schools.

A survey of teachers named Little Britain and EastEnders as the main culprits in the promotion of bad language.

Mr Chapman also criticised Britain's bosses for wanting to retain traditional A-levels as a "comfort zone" qualification but – at the same time – complaining that standards were "not the same as in their day".

He warned that there had been a "measure of confusion" over the introduction of the Government's new diplomas. "There are still some teachers for whom the real value of diplomas is unknown as it is less clear how they will be received by higher education and employers."

The diplomas were introduced in five subjects – ranging from engineering to leisure and tourism – for the first time last September. By 2013, they will be up and running in 17 different subjects in an attempt to bridge the academic/vocational divide.

The Schools Secretary, Ed Balls, has indicated they could replace A-levels as the normal route of study for students after the age of 16.

Short cuts: Teaching in sound-bites


How to remember the fate of Henry VIII's six wives: Divorced (Katherine of Aragon), Beheaded (Ann Boleyn), Died (Jane Seymour), Divorced (Anne of Cleves), Beheaded (Katherine Howard) , Survived (Katherine Parr)


How to teach Shakespeare. Get the class tickets for the Reduced Shakespeare Company (all 37 plays delivered in 90 minutes)


Learning the Planets. My Very English Mother Just Served Us Nuts (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune). Older classes can use My Very Erotic Mistress Just Showed Up Naked


Teaching the four directions of the compass: Clockwise Never Eat Shredded Wheat


Take a leaf out of David Blunkett's book when he praised a school that had its pupils singing their times tables to rap music


Get them to watch a re-run of Jamie Oliver's Channel Four series on school dinners

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

Reach Volunteering: Would you like to volunteer your expertise as Chair of Governors for Livability?

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Administrator - Buckinghamshire - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + substantial benefits: Ashdown Group: Finance Admin...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf