TES columnist Tom Bennett to lead government’s behaviour task force

Ministers have appointed teacher and TES columnist Tom Bennett to draw up plans to help the profession deal with problems of “low level disruption” in the classroom.

Mr Bennett will lead a new group created by the Department for Education to develop better training for teachers to tackle disruption caused by misbehaving children.

His appointment comes after Ofsted inspectors found that misbehaving children were having a significant impact on their fellow pupils by taking up teachers’ time through behaviour such as swinging on chairs, playing with mobile phones, making silly comments or passing notes in class.

Such behaviour can lead to pupils losing up to an hour of learning time a day, the watchdog found.

Mr Bennett, who successfully launched the ResearchED international series of conferences, said: “Behaviour has been the elephant in the classroom for too long, and the amount of learning time lost because of disruption is a tragedy.

“At present training teachers to anticipate, deal with and respond to misbehaviour is far too hit and miss – great in some schools and training providers, terrible in others.

“Parents and children deserve safe, calm learning spaces, and teachers deserve to be equipped with sensible strategies that maximise learning, safety and flourishing. I’m delighted to lead a group which will offer advice on doing just that.”

The announcement came as education secretary Nicky Morgan spelt out her plans to ensure all pupils starting secondary school in September will be expected to study English, maths, science, history or geography, and a language.

“This means ensuring children study key subjects that provide them with the knowledge they need to reach their potential- while setting a higher bar at GCSE so young people, their parents and teachers can be sure that the grades they achieve will help them get on in life,” Ms Morgan said.

But the proposals were condemned by the NUT, which described the decision to make the subjects – collectively known as the English Baccalaureate or Ebac – compulsory as a “bad idea that has suddenly become worse”.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “It has already been condemned by Conservatives such as Lord Baker. It will cause dismay among parents. Parents, like teachers, want a broad and balanced curriculum for their children. It is the responsibility of government to translate that aspiration into a curriculum that reflects the many demands that are made on the school, and that can involve and engage all learners.

“This responsibility cannot be resolved by making policies emanating from the whims of ministers, supported only by a narrow and contentious basis of evidence.”

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