The number of children and young people in school with behavioural, emotional or mental health problems is rising, according to a survey of teaching professionals.
This increase is coupled with worsening student behaviour in schools and colleges, the analysis by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) found.
In the survey of 844 education staff, 62% said there are more children with emotional, behavioural and mental health problems than 2 years ago, and 56% said there are more than 5 years ago.
Staff believe lack of boundaries at home is the main reason for students behaving badly (cited by 79%), followed by behavioural problems (69%), emotional problems (68%), wanting attention from other students (64%), a lack of positive role models at home (61%) and family breakdowns (61%). Also significant were low self-esteem (53%) and not valuing education (51%), and a third (34%) cited mental health problems.
The survey also highlighted a deficit in training to support students with mental health problems. While 76% of staff said their school or college has a policy to identify and help students suffering from mental health, emotional or behavioural problems, a quarter (26%) said they don't get any training to deal with these students and only a fifth (21%) get regular training which they rate as good or adequate. Nearly 40% (39%) said they didn't get any relevant training in their initial teacher training.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL, said: “Regrettably teachers and support staff are suffering the backlash from deteriorating standards of behaviour. They are frequently on the receiving end of children's frustration and unhappiness, and have to deal with the fall-out from parents failing to set boundaries and family breakdowns. And the huge funding cuts to local services mean that schools often have to deal with children's problems without any help.
“Schools need to give their staff good and regular training so that they know how to work with students with behavioural or mental health problems and have confidence in handling pupils with challenging behaviour. Behaviour training also needs to be an integral part of teacher training.”
YoungMinds director of campaigns and policy, Lucie Russell, said: “Teachers are operating in increasingly challenging environments with many children in their classrooms experiencing disruptive and complex home lives. Their emotional distress is often manifested as difficult behaviour that is hard for already overstretched teachers to manage.
“However solutions to this aren’t just about punishment, but should include skilling up teachers to understand the roots of difficult behaviour and how to manage it (currently teachers get no training in this), more support in the classroom including teaching assistants, learning mentors and behaviour teams, schools using their pupil premium monies to buy in specialist counselling and support services and better working between schools and child and adolescent mental health workers and the voluntary sector, who provide a range of expertise in dealing with children and young people with emotional and behavioural issues.”