It’s time to teach Australian children how to behave, report says

“[The] Australian version could be completed by all students as part of their NAPLAN tests for appropriate age groups, focusing on students in years 5, 7 and 9,” the report said.

It also suggested other states should follow NSW and stop constructing schools with open-plan learning environments and called for the fast-tracking of the recommendations of Teacher Education Expert Panel earlier this year, which recommended more classroom-management training at university.


Additional comments in the report from Labor senators Tony Sheldon and Fatima Payman said they were broadly supportive of many of the recommendations. They also noted the strong links between vaping, nicotine withdrawal and classroom disruption.

Greens education spokesperson Senator Penny Allman-Payne wrote a dissenting report, calling for more public school funding. She said an overemphasis on standardised testing, such NAPLAN, led to an environment that is more conducive to misbehaviour. She noted that “students struggling can stem from a failure of accommodation for disability.”

“From the outset the framing of this inquiry has had the potential to demonise children and young people and punish parents and carers … Scripted routines and approaches are a profoundly simplistic way to manage students in a classroom,” Allman-Payne said.

Western Australian Liberal Senator Matt O’Sullivan, who chaired the inquiry, said Programme for International Student Assessment results would be released next week. He said nothing of substance had been done to address behaviour and declining academic standards in the three years since Australia recorded its worst results in the global tests.


“I don’t think we’ve done anything in the last couple of years to address those results,” he said. “We’re saying prioritise this and implement it with no delays.”

Shadow education minister Sarah Henderson said: “As I saw first-hand when the senate committee visited Marsden Road Public School in Liverpool, Sydney, it is possible to manage classroom behaviour in challenging circumstances, and deliver highly effective learning, when teachers receive the best training and support.”

Federal Education Minister Jason Clare said the government would respond in due course to the report. “Disruptive and anti-social behaviour hurts everyone – our students, our teachers and our principals,” he said.

Education Minister Jason Clare said the government will consider its response to the proposals in the report.Credit: Martin Ollman

He noted the government was investing in short courses on classroom management for existing teachers, providing extra funding for wellbeing measures in schools and said students would be at the centre of the National School Reform Agreement.

Centre for Independent Studies education research Glenn Fahey said if the national behaviour survey was implemented well, it could help to pinpoint schools who do well promoting constructive behaviours and those who could do better.

“When all children have behaviour skills they need, they’re more engaged, stay on-task, work without distraction, and ultimately, they learn more consistently,” he said.

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