Discipline problems and bullying issues have been linked to Australian students falling behind.  But are parents responsible?

FEDERAL Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, has demanded a “zero tolerance’’ approach to bad behaviour in Australian classrooms after two major international reports released today show some classes are so chaotic with “noise and disorder” that up to half of the students are unable to hear the teacher, reports Daily Telegraph.

The findings, in reports on the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), follow the release last year of student achievement in both the international tests.

Australian students were the equivalent of 1½ years behind Singapore’s students in science, a year behind them in reading, and 2⅓ years behind in maths, reports SMH.

Naughty and disruptive children have emerged as a major reason why Australian students are falling behind the rest of the world in key subjects including maths and science.

“By all measures, we have some of the world’s best teachers and school leaders helping students to achieve outcomes that are the envy of many other countries,” Senator Birmingham said.

“However, the warning signs in these reports make it clear that while we need to ensure our record levels of funding is being properly distributed according to need, it must also be tied to proven initiatives to boost outcomes.”

The reports link the underachievement of students in Australian schools to discipline problems and rampant bullying. About one-third of students in affluent schools and half of those in disadvantaged schools report that almost every class is affected by ill-discipline and students do not listen to the teacher.

“This research demonstrates that more money spent within a school doesn’t automatically buy you better discipline, engagement or ambition,” Mr Birmingham said.

“Ill-discipline or a bad attitude doesn’t only hurt the outcomes of the student who brings such an approach to school but can infect entire classrooms of students.”

The Program for International Student Assessment, which assessed 14,500 15-year-olds at 758 schools, found Australia scored “significantly lower than the OECD average” for classroom discipline levels.

7 News Australia conducted a Facebook poll asking if parents are responsible for poorly behaved children?

So far out of 2871 votes, 71% replied YES!

Do you think parents are to blame or does there need to be better discipline at schools?

Share your comments below.

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  • everyone has to take responsibility in the situation. parents are getting lazier and letting kids act like adults and they can do whatever they want while the teachers are seemingly less engaged and less qualified. My child is very clever and actually told me about having to correct her teacher’s spelling! she got a dictionary to prove it but got in trouble for being rude even though she was trying to just be helpful.


  • I think that this generation of teachers is to blame. Not trying to keep children engaged. Throwing their hands up when things are tough etc. Whinging they aren’t paid enough (best paid teachers in the world for output) etc.


  • Teaching styles need to be engaging for children, and then parents need to step in and help if and when they start falling behind.


  • It is quite a complicated and complex problem and has so many layers. It can be too easy to blame parents and blame schools. The important way to move forward is….how does a community address this problem. There needs to be parent, teacher and community education and we need to remove labels and work with children and families to overcome bullying and also implement standards and reward people when they achieve these standards.


  • Discipline at home and at school are both important as well as good behavior and basic manners.


  • Must agree with June11 – I had the same problems with my children telling me they had rights because their teacher had told them so. It seems that many problems in the school are coming back to bite those who taught it in the first place.
    But I must admit that parents are also to blame – they should teach basic manners at home from age 1 – please and thank you will go a long way in my house.


  • Most children in schools in Singapore that these figures were probably accessed from have Nannies which teach the children a lot, including 2 languages before they are even kindergarten age. I have a friend with grandchildren in Singapore. At 2 y.o. the ledest one was saying the alphabet and numbers, reading, and by the age of 4 was speaking 2 extra languages fluently. Parents are encouraged to return to work. It has been in the media in the last fortnight in SA. Their children spend a lot of time at childcare centres because of it. Bullying was an issue when Mums didn’t return to work.
    If the teachers are still telling the kids that they have rights etc. maybe they should start in their own backyard. In the late 1980s children at schools in the Southern Suburbs of Adelaide were being told that they had rights. If they didn’t want to do what their parents ask them to they don’t have to. Parents can’t physically touch them to stop them from walking out the door and going where they want to. Yelling, even if there is no bad language of any type is verbal abuse. If they upset them enough it is emotional and physcological Basically some pupils take it to mean they can do what they want to – their parents can’t stop them. I know for a fact one class was told this within a fortnight of starting school. One told me that it meant that parents are adults so are teachers. They don’t have to do what the teachers tell them either.
    Then the parents get notes from the school complaining about behaviour etc.
    Only in the last couple of years I went with a friend who was taking her grandson to his classroom. One of the other boys was talking to a teacher in the doorway. They were laughing and the teacher poked her tongue out at him. I was disgusted. I realised afterwards we should have gone to the Principal’s office and complained. Mr Birmingham is from SA. He had better look at the Education system in his home state.


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