I have been reading about a survey commissioned by the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), and have noticed something a little fishy. For some reason the full survey results are not yet available on the DCSF website, but comparing the information they have released with that from other sources has proven interesting.
Here is the DCSF page on the results, and it draws particular attention to these statistics:
• the vast majority (94%) of teachers rate behaviour as acceptable or better in their school;
• over half of teachers (52%) think behaviour has improved or remained broadly the same over the last five years; and
• a strong majority (83%) think they are well equipped to tackle poor behaviour.
Here is a BBC report on the same survey, and it includes the following information:
• 48% of teachers said behaviour had worsened in their school.
• this figure was 54% among secondary school teachers.
• 70% of teachers overall said behaviour was either good or very good.
• only 6% rated behaviour as being poor.
Where do the DCSF get this figure of 94% (and its reverse of 6%) from if the BBC are claiming that 48% of teachers say behaviour has gotten worse? It appears as though they have done it by lumping together two different types of data; like adding centimetres to inches. The 94% seems to have been reached through combining - in some way I can't work out - the percentage of teachers who think behaviour is 'better' and those who think it is 'acceptable'. These are two entirely separate criteria but have been blended together to reach this ridiculously inaccurate boast.
The DCSF rather undermine their own point with their next statistic; that 52% say behaviour has gotten better or stayed the same. This combines exactly with the BBC figure of 48% of teachers claiming behaviour has gotten worse. And since the 52% is a combination of two responses, we can therefore comfortably assume that the 48% represents the largest single group of respondents.
In short, the survey tells us that very close to half of teachers think behaviour in their schools has deteriorated over the last five years, and that - based on DCSF combining of two types of response - a good number of them don't think behaviour has gotten any better, either. The fact that a good proportion of teachers find these new levels of misbehaviour to be 'acceptable' seems to be the only statistic that matters to the government. So when Ed Balls says: "It shows that the media view of widespread disruption and lack of respect simply does not ring true for those actually teaching young people", he is clearly talking bollocks.
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