Gavin Williamson has stated that behaviour in schools is ‘out-of-control’ after lockdown and it will destroy the atmosphere in schools. The Secretary of State for Education went on to say that lockdown has had a negative impact on children’s ‘discipline and order’ and that the schools need to remind children on ‘how to behave well’.
However the National Education Union, which represents teachers and schools has disagreed with these comments and experts have said there is no evidence that behaviour has worsened since lockdown.
Further to the remarks came the announcement that there will be a new programme to help children, which will be a national network of ‘behaviour hubs’. These will be operating in time for summer term, with the government providing the scheme £10 million to get set up and test.
Many of his comments have been challenged, with Mr Williamson wanting to ban mobile phones as they distract from ‘exercise and good old-fashioned play’.
Dr Mary Bousted from the NEU has stated that Gavin Williamson should have used his platform and spoken out about other things to help behaviour such as smaller classes and more funding for pastoral support. Mary said “With all the challenges currently facing schools, playing to the gallery by talking tough on behaviour is the least useful approach the education secretary can take.”
The Chief Executive of the Children’s Society has said that the pandemic and lockdown has been harmful to children and young people’s mental health in many ways, however there is no evidence that their behaviour is worse. Practitioners report that children and young people are more relieved to get back.