Challenging behaviours in New Zealand classrooms at critical levels

New research from the Education Review Office (ERO) has found that disruptive behaviour in New Zealand’s classrooms is worse than other countries, is a rapidly growing problem, and is getting in the way of learning.  

We know that disruptive classroom behaviour is a significant and persistent issue in New Zealand - over the last 20 years our classroom behaviour has been amongst the worst in the OECD.

But we also know it is getting worse, with over half of teachers saying all types of disruptive behaviour had become worse in the last two years. 

ERO is extremely concerned that a quarter of principals told us they are seeing students physically harm others, and damage or take property at least every day. 

Disruptive classroom behaviour is badly impacting students - three-quarters of teachers report disruptive behaviour is impacting on students’ progress and we know students in better behaved classes have higher achievement. It is also preventing schools improving attendance - two-thirds of teachers say it is having a large impact on students’ enjoyment of school, which is key to attendance.  

We also know that we need to do all we can to prevent and tackle behaviour problems early – students who are stood down, suspended or excluded are at greater risk of not succeeding in education and having worse outcomes as an adult.  

Disruptive behaviour in our classrooms is also badly affecting teachers across New Zealand. Half of teachers say classroom behaviour has a large impact on their intention to stay in the profession. 

Teachers aren’t always set up and prepared to manage disruptive behaviour. Less than half of new teachers told us they could manage behaviours in the classroom. And far too often when teachers and principals do seek support and expert advice it is difficult to access.  

To support schools, ERO has produced an evidence-based good practice guide with practical actions schools can take and which captures the great approaches teachers are already adopting. But schools can’t do this alone, they need support and parents play a key role too.  

We need a national approach to how we manage behaviour in our schools so our kids can get the best out of their education. We need to increase support for teachers, alongside setting clear expectations from all of us about what good behaviour looks like so we can prevent and respond to this challenge effectively. 

You can read the new report here: Time to Focus: Behaviour in our Classrooms (