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More Support Needed For Classroom Behaviour Says ERO Report

The New Zealand Principals' Federation (NZPF) welcomes the latest research report on ‘Behaviour in Classrooms’, conducted by the ERO research team.

"I am grateful that ERO has responded to our calls for more research into the behaviour problems that classroom teachers face every day in our schools," said Leanne Otene, President of the NZPF.

ERO’s report notes that the OECD’s PISA reports over the past twenty years reveal that ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’s classrooms have consistently had the worst behaviour compared to most other OECD countries’.

"This is sobering reading and highlights what principals have been saying for years," said Otene.

"This government is focused on evidence based data and here it is in black and white," she said. "I expect that, as with the cell phone directive, the government will move with urgency on these findings."

"We cannot focus on how we meet both our own and the government’s goal of raising achievement, if we are not also resourcing behaviour and learning support," she said.

"Inevitably, our high level of behaviour challenges has a serious impact on teacher effectiveness and our children’s learning," she said.

Otene welcomes the recommendation for greater investment in effective support adding that the lack of professional Educational Psychologists, specialists and therapists is long overdue and until this issue is addressed, schools will continue to struggle and have their classes disrupted.

"The time lag to provide the specialists must be filled by instigating a system of smaller classes and increased teacher aide staff," she said.

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The report recommends that schools need excellent policies and plans for behaviour management including national plans.

"I agree all schools need good policies and plans to manage behaviour in schools," said Otene, "and to implement those policies and plans we need equitable access to the experts and specialists to advise, support and guide school responses," she said.

The positive behaviour for learning (PB4L) programme, which is funded by the Ministry, is mentioned in the report as a helpful way to manage student behaviour school wide and Otene agrees.

"The PB4L PLD programme is an option for schools and needs to be available to more schools. But there is no silver bullet here, and PB4L is just one option that can be very effective for some schools," she said.

Otene noted that it would have been helpful if the report had also explored culturally applicable options for our Māori and Pacific Island students.

"An exploration of cultural mana enhancing approaches would have been a useful addition to this behaviour research," she said.


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