Nation’s school bullying shame laid bare

A global survey has exposed the true extent of bullying in Australian schools - and how much of teachers' time is wasted policing student behaviour.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report, released in Paris last night, found that 37 per cent of Australian principals dealt with acts of intimidation or bullying among students at least weekly.

The average for industrialised countries is just 14 per cent, making Australian schools among the world's worst for bullying.

The global survey of 260,000 teachers in 48 industrialised nations shows that Australian teachers are struggling with rowdy and disruptive classrooms.

And they are ill-equipped to teach high numbers of special needs and migrant students.

The OECD report shows that 60 per cent of Australian teachers are "frequently calming'' disruptive students.

Less than half of Australia's teachers feel well prepared for student behaviour and classroom management, and 29 per cent say they lose "quite a lot of time'' because students interrupt their lessons.

A quarter of teachers say they have to wait "quite a long time'' for students to quieten down at the start of a lesson, and classrooms are too noisy.

By contrast, only 8 per cent of Chinese teachers and 12 per cent of Japanese teachers complained of noise and disruption.

Students in Germany practise strategies for dealing with bullies.
Students in Germany practise strategies for dealing with bullies.

"Teachers who report a greater lack of discipline in their classroom tend to feel less confident in their teaching ability and to spend less classroom time on actual teaching and learning,'' the report says.

Centre for Independent Studies education research fellow Blaise Joseph said: "It appears new teachers in Australia are significantly (less prepared).

"It appears we need to improve the quality of teacher education degrees, to ensure new teachers are well prepared."

The OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey involved 4000 teachers and 200 principals from 200 schools in Australia.

It found that during an hour-long lesson, teachers averaged 47 minutes of teaching, eight minutes keeping order and five minutes on administrative tasks.

Australian teachers work an average of 45 hours a week - including 20 in the classroom and 25 preparing lessons, supervising extra-curricular activities or marking.

The Courier-Mail revealed last week that unruly students, pushy parents and heavy workloads were driving teachers to drink.

Bond University research found that 17 per cent of teachers had probable alcohol dependence' - triple the national average - while 18.4 per cent weare depressed and 20 per cent suffered anxiety.



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