Low-level Classroom Disruption in UK Schools Hinders Learning

Unhappy Student

BBC recently released a startling article stating that due to low-level disruption, some pupils could be losing up to one hour of learning each day, which accumulates to 38 days over an entire year. School inspectors warn that low-level, persistent disruptive behaviour in England’s schools is affecting pupils’ learning and ultimately damaging their job and life Prospects.

Ofsted’s conducted a report on low-level disruption in the country’s classrooms. The report is based on the inspection surveys of a sample of 95 state schools and academies inspected between January and July 2014. After receiving the results of the survey, teachers and parents commented the following:

  • “Students want to show off, are anti-establishment, or feel they have the right to be superior.” (Secondary school teacher)
  • “Pupils are not prepared to listen unless they are entertained.” (Primary school teacher)
  • “The head teacher and senior staff could support teachers with disruptive students… instead of blaming the teachers when poor behaviour is brought up to the leadership team.” (Secondary school teacher)
  • “Make sure expectations are consistent and reinforced by all – I am fed up of being the disliked teacher because I follow school expectations and others don’t.” (Secondary school teacher)
  • “In our view there is too much leeway given to some children who are aggressive/bullying/disruptive.” (Parent of a primary school pupil)
  • “I think parents can help with behaviour but some parents do not care if their children are behaving badly at school.” (Parent of a secondary school student)

Low level disruption by students can be partly credited to poor classroom design. If students are removed from the learning environment (due to the level of noise experienced in the classroom), their level of involvement will also be reduced. A commonly ignored element of classroom design is room size. Classroom size and student performance are negatively related, which means that without the implementation of special measures, the bigger the classroom, the lower student grades will be.

Sitting too far away from the teacher means that some students are not engaged in lessons. Classroom reverberation can also confuse how we perceive what is being taught as the teacher’s signal bounces from the hard surfaces of the classroom (ceiling, floor boards, etc).

Tips for Keeping Classes Focused and Actively Involved

Sound For Schools recommends addressing this problem as a high priority. There are many low cost solutions to reducing classroom noise such as Hushh-ups. Sound For Schools also offer acoustic treatment services for the whole classroom at an affordable price, which is recommended for rooms with a high reverberation time or echo.  Finally, to ensure that everyone is included in the lesson (this means reaching the student at the back of the classroom as well as the student who may have a hearing disability), it is recommended that schools invest in Personal FM systems such as the highly commended Comfort Audio Digisystem. To ensure that the teacher is able to reach the whole classroom, a voice optimised amplification system or Soundflied system may be necessary.

Further reading

Stays inspired, and watch the top 5 TED talks on education.

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Encourage your students to think out the box with a virtual lesson


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