Hidden cameras capture the behaviour of some primary school children in Leicester to illustrate the challenges teachers face and the effects of classroom disruption on all pupils.
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This programme contains some strong language.
These parents are glimpsing a secret world normally closed to them.
Fixed cameras have been allowed into the classroom where they'll catch the highs...
Brilliant, well done, James.
I think I'm really good at school because I've never got told off.
..and the lows of one school week.
School would be better if people stopped being nasty to people.
Each year in British primary schools, at least three weeks of teaching time is lost.
The reason, low-level disruption.
Parents will be invited to watch what their children really get up to in class.
It's going to be quite an eye-opener, probably.
Evan, what you doing? Maisy, what you doing?
But will they recognise their children from their behaviour?
-It can't be easy to watch.
-It's not, it's not, not as a parent.
This is Humberstone Junior in Leicester.
And this is class 4FF.
Here, as in primary schools across Britain, teachers want to end classroom disruption.
So they've agreed to let cameras into this class of eight and nine year olds.
But who's responsible for poor behaviour in class?
And could watching the children help teachers and parents tackle it?
I always knew there was an element of risk, because it's
quite a new thing, to open your classroom up to a camera crew
and to allow people to watch what goes on in that quite,
almost private world of the classroom.
Annemarie Williams has been head teacher at the school for two years.
I don't think we've got anything to hide, we've got no secrets and
we're working toward parents being involved in the school.
I'm hoping that parents realise what their child is like at school and
thus more supportive when we're trying to manage that.
Maisy, can you show me what you've done this morning?
Fiona Fagan is assistant head and 4FF's class teacher.
I'm also hoping I see what the characters are like a bit more closely,
because I don't get to see everything that goes on in the classroom
because I can't possibly and it will make me
more aware of where I need to position myself and direct my attentions, I think.
I don't like school because
the teachers are always nagging at you all day.
I don't like it.
I mean, I'd like the teacher for once to stop blaming me for everything.
Maisy is nine years old.
Over the past year, she has repeatedly been in trouble for misbehaving in class.
And there have been frequent calls home to her parents, Maria and James.
Do you ever hear any positive?
-No. That's what I was thinking.
-You don't hear... There must be some positives.
I mean, she does come out of school and we, you know, but...
It's a good day when the teacher doesn't follow her out...
Yeah, that's right, yeah.
-..and say "Mrs Throop can we have a word please?".
That's a good day.
Maisy is quite a big character within 4FF. She's quite silly.
She likes reactions from other children...
when she's behaving in a...
Maisy regularly protests her innocence
and her parents are sometimes left wondering who to believe.
-Want a drink or owt?
We get second-hand stories, you know, from Maisy and from the teacher, you know.
But you'd be able to see what other children get up to as well, because some...
You know, she's not just acting on her own.
Yes. Sometimes other children encourage other children.
I just get the impression that it is Maisy acting on her own and I don't quite believe that.
I like painting and I like gluing and I like sticking because that's fun stuff.
But all we do is writing, spelling and homework, like...
So just get in the car. I need to defrost it.
It's all a bit crazy. They blow the whistle and everybody lines up,
but it's hard to get them quiet cos the parents are still around so...
Humberstone Junior was a failing school but over the past three years,
it's been turned around.
When Ofsted inspected earlier this year, the school was rated 'good'.
CHILDREN CHORUS: Good morning, Miss Williams.
Good morning, everybody.
-That was, yeah, that was...
-These primary school years are crucial in a child's development
and at the start of the week, pupils are expected to come into school alert,
ready for a week of learning.
I'd like them to come well slept, well fed, well rested
after the weekend, keen to learn, motivated and ready to get going.
Quite often they come on a Monday morning quite disrupted, unsettled,
-tired and sometimes not that keen to learn.
-I need a volunteer.
While most of the class are in assembly, a small group of children are having an extra reading session.
Maisy's reading with Emma Proud,
a class teaching assistant.
"To close down the shop. Can little Half Price think of a plan to save it?"
Mmm, sounds a good story. You know what?
Rio, have you read yet?
-Bring us your bits then, please.
As the next child comes up to read, Maisy is expected to carry on reading quietly to herself.
"..and started to clean the kitchen. It..."
But she quickly loses interest.
"It's vacuumed, it's washed and polished all the time.
"It sang a happy little song."
Oh, I could do with that, I think.
-That wouldn't be good.
First thing Monday morning and already it's too much for Maisy.
Sometimes children go to bed later on a Friday and Saturday,
but then when it comes to Sunday, they're out of their early bed routine and it can cause
all sorts of problems because if they're tired, they become disengaged,
they are de-motivated, they haven't got the energy to want to learn,
so they become quite restless and can start the low-level disruption.
-It's an anxious moment for Maria and James.
They'll be watching their daughter Maisy in the classroom for the first time.
"Jolly red one..." >
It's an opportunity to discover the truth about her behaviour in school.
"..other to carry..." >
Lovely. So what do you think's going to happen, then?
We've got Carl moving to Poppy's and Poppy's going nuts.
-Ok, and what's the story?
-She's not going to read this book, is she?
-No. She's not feeling it, is she?
-She's won't read it.
-Is he such a nice neighbour, this Mr Flint?
-Has he got any faults?
-He's not nice.
Maisy's returned to her desk.
She's supposed to be writing a book review.
That obviously looks like a late night the night before, doesn't it?
Oh, she's just going to sleep.
Yes, put that pencil down. >
-I think she comes across that she's quite tired.
-I'm quite shocked really. Was that in the morning?
-That was Monday.
-Monday morning, yeah.
-First thing, nine o'clock.
She likes to stop up, because she stopped up on a Friday and a Saturday.
Yeah. She's not tired.
She thinks, "Oh, Sunday's OK and Monday's OK,"
and we'll say "No, it's time for sleep now.".
-But there'll be messing around upstairs so the following day she'll be tired.
Can I practise what I've got to do in assembly?
It's literacy time now.
It's kind of difficult not to talk but I'm trying not to talk now...
in the lessons.
Corey is nine years old. He struggles to read and write.
When I don't really listen,
I don't really know what the question is and
when I don't know what the question is,
it gets harder and harder cos you don't really want to ask because
you'll be kind of rude to ask when she just told you what it is,
but you don't really know.
He's a lovely little boy.
He craves positive input from adults and his peers.
-Do you smell or something?
The school says that, because Corey finds lessons so challenging, he misbehaves and is disruptive.
He can get angry quite easily and quite quickly.
His attainment is so low compared to his peers, he struggles greatly with the schoolwork.
Corey has an older brother at the school and two younger sisters.
His mum Rachel says that, at home, her son is helpful and patient with the two girls.
She doesn't recognise the child described by the school.
He does act so differently at school than he does at home.
When Corey's got into trouble in the past, they have...
rang me up and said "Can you come and collect Corey?
"He keeps walking out of class and it's unacceptable".
The school's solution is to offer Corey extra support and lots of encouragement.
But Rachel thinks they're being too soft on him.
I don't want them giving him special treatment, going to special classes so he doesn't have to do his work...
..because then he'll come home with like stickers all over him,
lickle trophies and I'll say, "Corey, what did you get them for?"
and it was, "Oh, that was because I was sitting nicely on the carpet"
and I says, "No, Corey, you should be doing that anyway".
Corey, along with the rest of the class, are in the morning literacy lesson.
So, last week we were looking at explanation text,
we'll carry that on this week, look a bit more in detail at them.
To keep children engaged, lessons are broken down into short bursts,
often starting on the carpet, where children write on whiteboards.
So, for example, it might explain how your Hoover works or your washing machine.
Then they move back to their desks to continue their work.
Feeling a bit tired?
Because Corey finds lessons difficult,
he often finds ways to avoid class.
Today he's complained of being hungry and has been taken out to get some breakfast.
You are good. Come on, then.
We'd better hurry up cos we're missing the lesson, aren't we?
-What lesson is it?
Are you sad about that?
-No, I didn't think you were.
If we don't get back there, you won't know what you're doing, will you?
That's the whole idea.
What? It is.
By the time he returns, Corey has missed 20 minutes of the lesson.
His mum Rachel has come into school.
Now, for the first time, she can see for herself how he's getting on in class.
He's really trying to get out of the lesson, isn't he?
Yeah. He's delayed it already by saying he's hungry
and he's had his piece of toast.
Yeah. He's just not wanting to do it at all.
-No, not at all.
-Now he's having a drink that he doesn't really want.
For two hours each morning, Corey has one-to-one support in class
from teaching assistant Tracey Smith.
Come on, we need to get some work done.
-He's trying every trick in the book. He just really didn't want to sit down and do the work at all.
He does avoidance techniques all the time and I'm constantly, like...
-Is this like an every day basis, then?
-This is what he's like every day.
And I'm constantly, "Corey, come and sit down"
and if I haven't got Mrs Smith, cos she's only there 9 till 11,
-Is this every day that she's there?
Yeah, but the rest of the time it's just me,
so I'm constantly like "Corey, come and sit down" and then I have to have him sat with me.
It's only Monday and Rachel is beginning to realise that without
one-to-one support, her son is difficult to control.
What's it been like having the cameras here?
You can't do anything naughty.
But I try my best not to swear in front of the camera.
-So is everyone behaving themselves today?
Yeah, because of the, especially because the cameras are here.
When I sit at the table, like, the camera starts and follows me and that.
It's like Big Brother, it's like you could take people out...
Back from break, the children are having 20 minutes of reading time.
Corey is getting on with his work.
But on the other side of the room...
-..Maisy is still showing no interest in her book.
Unnoticed by teaching staff, she's disrupting those around her.
Maisy... Maisy, that really is the wrong thing to be doing right now,
isn't it, darling? What a shame.
-They're going in there.
-Can I have it?
Can you give it to Charlie so you can get straight on with your work?
It's not the first time Maisy's been in trouble for bringing playthings into class.
Bring your book over, Maisy, quick.
She does have things though a lot, doesn't she?
-I'd rather her not bring anything.
-I sometimes have to physically search her so she hasn't got things because of that...
That's why I don't send her with anything.
-All that's taken place still on Monday morning.
-So she's obviously not started that day...
-..in the right frame of mind.
-No, maybe not.
-..for doing her reading and stuff.
Eight-year old Rio has always had good reports from school.
I think I'm really good at school because...
Because I'm always...
Because I'm always being good and I've never got told off at school.
But since moving into year four, Rio's behaviour in class has deteriorated,
something the school is keen to put a stop to.
Rio isn't a leader, Rio is a follower, so if there's somebody
being silly, he usually hooks onto that silliness and joins in.
Generally on the carpet, he listens quite carefully.
It's usually when he's at his table that he's a little bit disruptive.
Rio's parents, Lee and Suzanne, both work full-time
and have less opportunity than many parents to talk to the teachers.
They have yet to be told of the school's concerns about their son's behaviour.
Yeah, it'd be nice to be a fly on the wall.
I think he's just a happy-go-lucky lad, I think in the class he'd just,
you know, just be getting on with what he does
and interacting with everybody.
I think, because he's at school, obviously he knows that somebody's
in charge there, so he does to behave.
Obviously with at home, with any child, they try to push their luck and see how far they can go.
Rio knows when he's at school he has to behave.
It's Tuesday morning.
Rio and the rest of the class have been asked to write a two page story.
So our story starter today, Corey, is...
The afternoon was hot and so was the railway carriage.
The next stop was Temple Boom, nearly an hour ahead.
Armed with instructions, the children return to their desks.
Come on, Charlie, you can get this one.
Rio's parents have come into school together for the first time...
- Hi. - Hello there.
-..and they're in for a surprise.
Now all we've got to do is copy that bit for it.
Handwriting practise, isn't it?
Oh, that went in the pot!
Jack! It went in the actual pot.
-Jack's not having any of it, is he?
-No, no. No, definitely not.
I went like that. Look, it's in the pot. It landed in the pot. Bang!
It hit the white board on the top and it just bounced in the pot.
-He's definitely lost concentration.
I don't understand how I didn't notice. Look, that right there.
-How did I not notice?
But it's not just the class teacher Fiona who's seeing 4FF in a new light.
It's also an eye-opener for Lee and Suzanne, as they watch Rio in school.
-Rio, do I need to come and sit next to you to get some work out of you?
-Is he distracted like that at home?
He won't tell you sometimes he's got homework.
I think he wants to do it, doesn't he?
-I think he just needs someone to step in and say,
"Rio, come on, it's not playtime now, it's time to concentrate" and...
-Work time, yeah.
-Yeah, it is.
-Is it what you expected?
-I think you. I didn't actually.
I thought he'd be really, really quiet.
Each year in British primary schools, at least three weeks of teaching time is lost.
-The poor behaviour of children in class.
Khaled, now why are you stopping Jenna from working?
According to Ofsted,
the biggest problem facing Britain's schools is not serious misbehaviour, but low-level disruption.
Low-level disruption is usually when children want to avoid doing work.
They might be chatting to the person sat next to them.
-Oh, no. No.
-Can I do it in pink?
-No! Right, can everyone stop, please?
They might be tipping up on their chair, they might be wandering around the classroom
to get a rubber or a pencil, they might be going to sharpen their pencil.
They might be going to get a drink.
And generally disturbing only a few children around them.
I think it's unrealistic to expect that you're going to have 30 children in a room all day
and there'll be no low-level disruption
and I think we accept there is going to be disruption.
For me, it's about how we handle that.
One strategy used by this school and many others
is to place children who can be disruptive next to a child who can act as a good role model.
-No. Yes, you are.
Let's chop your head off...
I try to put them next to children that I know don't
become easily distracted and they're so engaged in their work
that they ignore what's going on next to them
and get on with their work and so I don't really think that it affects their learning that much.
What it does do is, because those children are so well engaged,
it doesn't give the disruptive child anybody to feed off.
-I'm not doing my work.
-No, I'm not.
Some good ideas.
-I know you've got some good ideas in there...
You've done some brilliant work.
The child sitting next to Corey finally loses his patience.
Right, Corey, you must do some work now.
Brilliant, well done, James.
Did you find that easier like that? Isn't it?
Nine year-old James works hard at school.
But he's sensitive to the taunts and teasing of other children in the classroom.
School would be better if people stop being nasty to people.
They are being mean to me and my family or friends
and that probably gets me wound up.
I'm going to try and ignore them,
just try and walk away.
James is like a little lost soul.
He has quite a lot of problems with the other boys in the class,
mainly because, I think, of the way he reacts to things,
I think they like to get a reaction out of him.
He's very keen to learn, really wants to do well, really wants to please.
Yeah, he's a nice lad, James is.
James's mother Donna knows about the playground arguments.
Sometimes he has come home and said that he has been picked on, so he's
had to obviously retaliate to that, which I do try to tell him not to.
You're not at school for fighting, you're there to learn.
Go get it.
That'll keep him busy.
But Donna has yet to find out just how much the classroom squabbles are disrupting her son's work.
Research shows that parental involvement in schools
can significantly improve behaviour
and exam results and the school are keen to enlist Donna's support.
James and the rest of the class have returned from morning break.
Can I have group four?
-Where are they?
-They went out there.
What are you lot doing?
James has got into an argument with Rio
over a car he's brought into school.
Can you sit properly on this chair please, Rio?
I don't like what's happening here. Sit properly, please.
Come on, you've had a really good morning.
James is upset and the teaching assistant Emma goes to calm him down.
But it's your toy car that you like playing with.
What does it matter what anybody else thinks?
I think I...
Yeah, but that's all over and done with then now. Forget that.
What you supposed to be doing now?
Angry and unhappy, James finds it difficult to concentrate.
There's an old one there.
Teachers say learning time is frequently lost when arguments spill over into the classroom.
Oh, James, thank you. Go and sit down and get on with your work.
You were telling him it's no good then in not very nice words, apparently.
His main difficulty is his anger management.
And it's times when he feels under threat a little bit,
either under threats, somebody's making fun of him...
-Or under threat...
Yeah, he has come home a few times...
"Such and such has called you...", I says "Well, don't listen to them."
But he's quite a sensitive little soul.
-He is quite sensitive and someone can say something that...
..in their head doesn't feel or sound that bad...
-Yeah. And to him...
-and in his head it ends up being a massive thing.
That affects his ability to get on with his work because it eats him up inside.
There's a big group of boys in this year group and in this class,
that are quite challenging.
They all want to be in charge, they all want to be top of the pecking order and they also have a need for
street cred and quite often, that leads to disagreements.
The boys in my class know what winds each other up.
On the other side of the playground, a game involving year four boys has escalated into a fight.
James is involved.
The head teacher has stepped in to restore order.
From what I can gather...
shouldn't have been throwing something in someone's face, very dangerous, very silly.
And you shouldn't have been kicking children when you get cross with them.
It's not the first time James has waded into a fight
and, though his intentions are good, Annemarie is keen to discourage this behaviour.
How have you ended up mixed up in all the middle of all this?
I tried to split you two up.
But James, don't try to split it up. Come and find an adult.
Miss, James didn't do anything.
Yeah. James, you really shouldn't have got involved but you are the least guilty here, all right?
Next time, James, what are you going to do, instead of try and get involved and sort it out?
-Tell an adult.
-Tell an adult.
There's four of us out there, yeah?
Right. Go and stand down there, please. James, you can go outside.
Khaled, you stood here please, outside the staff room.
You do not speak to anybody, particularly each other.
Annemarie refers the incident on to Dan Collier.
He runs the boys' achievement group.
-This one, yeah?
-90% of the teaching staff at Humberstone Junior
are female, so the group was set up to provide positive male role models for boys in the school.
It aims to build up their self-esteem and it's an opportunity for James to open up.
First, we're going to do one of these short sheets, OK?
So, we'll talk about it, write your name, OK?
And then you're going to rate the week, OK?
So it's from one to ten, OK?
So if you circle, you circle a number
and ten is if you've have a really good week, OK?
And one if it's not been great, OK?
-That's a one?
Why a one?
-Not just that lunchtime thing, is it?
No, not so good.
You two not getting on very well?
Oh, some other people as well. You've had a bit of a tough week, have you?
There's been a lot of different things happening this week.
There's a lot going on in school.
Maisy is one of six children chosen for an intensive reading programme.
The school considers it a privilege.
The Masked Cleaning Ladies Of Om.
It's a chance for Maisy to improve her reading skills
but she's more interested in entertaining her classmates.
-What do you mean, what?
If I just sat here going like this, wouldn't you go, "What you doing, Mrs Proud?"
And when I look at you, that's what I'm seeing.
Come on, then, open up. Come on, Khaled. Khaled...
Obviously, Mrs Proud's not seen that.
-No. She's not noticed.
-Not even aware.
Nora, told the rest...
family what are we going to do as princess came for a start. I can...
I can even do a bit...
What? She's doing this.
You're the one that's not working.
-The others are.
-I can even do a bit of washing myself. "What?"
shouted Queen Nora. Our people will say that King Harry...
Stop it. Sorry, Maisy.
"What?" shouted Queen Nora.
"People will say that King Harry does his own cleaning". "Never".
I like your expression. That's how they talk, yeah.
"Never!". Right, can you please take this?
In fact, don't, stay there and you come and sit next to me here Khaled,
then you can't look lovingly into Maisy's eyes, can you?
You need a book to read.
-Being a cowboy.
-He didn't let go...
And he ran all the way into town for...
-You just let go of it, didn't you?
-She's doing her dances.
-What's that one?
If she could dance all day she would be happy.
-You've just let go of it, haven't you?
-What's going on?
Sometimes you find it hard not to laugh to yourself...
Right. Well, we were all laughing, weren't we, then when...
-It's really not...
-It's not funny.
-It's not funny.
-It's not funny.
-This is...the literacy side of things is important.
-Yeah, it is.
I love reading. She's always seen me read.
That reading programme that she's on, she gets listened to read every single day like that
and it's a six week intensive reading programme.
-To really help her.
-To really help her develop her reading.
And it's a brilliant opportunity for her
but she's not making the most of it.
Just two days into the school week.
Already for the parents watching their children in class,
there have been surprises and disappointments.
But what does the rest of the week hold for the four children?
Corey and the rest of the class are in literacy.
We've got a nice activity today.
You need to listen. OK. We were thinking before about
what's in an explanation text, so we're going to be...
saying an explanation, OK?
The children are paired off and Fiona encourages the steadier
children to work with those that are easily distracted.
OK, so let's think about what partners, then.
Maisy, you may go with Zainab.
Corey's teaching assistant isn't with him.
You can turn the lights on and off.
And, though he has been paired with a child that works steadily and quietly,
without one-to-one support, Corey becomes increasingly disengaged.
Right, come on then, write about the lightbulb.
Corey, what you doing?
Rachel can now see for herself how much her son struggles in lessons
and how it takes the support and encouragement of teachers
just to keep him in class.
And this is a regular thing?
-Yeah. At least once every lesson.
He doesn't always walk out. He'll just stand by the door for a minute.
Which is progress, because what he used to do, he'd be out the door and he would run down the corridor
and if Fiona was on her own in the classroom, somebody would
have to go and round him up and bring him back in.
He just seems so kind of...
-He seems sad, you know?
-Yeah, you just feel like...
especially as a mum, I just feel like sitting with him
-and saying "It's OK, Corey", I feel really kind of...
-I feel sorry for him, you know?
-We often feel that he looks like he's lost.
-Yeah, a little lost boy.
He stands back from the other children, he doesn't get involved.
Maisy does have the ability to work well in class when she chooses
and, paired with Zainab, she's getting on with her work.
Well done, girls, that was brilliant.
Some of the boys are practising
their football skills for an assembly they're giving the next day.
Corey has got into an argument with another boy.
Corey, be in charge of my balls in the bag for a minute, please.
-Stay, thank you.
-Once again James gets involved.
Khaled, no, just leave him.
James, leave him. James, leave him. I know, I know.
Right, I want you in twos with one ball between you, please.
Get into twos and get one ball.
Corey, think what you're doing, think about what you're doing, take some deep breaths.
Walk with me this way, walk with me this way, good boy. Thank you.
Oh, my goodness. I need you to help me for this assembly. It's got to be a good assembly. Yeah?
What, do you just want five minutes out, just to sit out a minute?
-That's fine. Don't go out the gate, though, cos we need to know you're in here.
Right, are we in twos? Have we got a ball each?
The bag's here, look. Thank you.
Thank you boys. Go on, off you go, let's see what we can do with this.
In, out, in, out.
Corey rejoins the group but the argument flares up a second time.
So, right, let's start from the beginning then.
Please, boys. This is silly, isn't it?
Right, stay in these pairs for the assembly. Set yourselves up like this.
I will leave three cones like this, so that it's dead easy for you to place yourself between them, OK?
Then we'll do...
if I can talk Corey round, he can be the whistle man or something.
You know what, Corey?
Corey, if you use my whistle, you could be the referee here and start and stop this game.
What do you reckon?
Once again, teaching is disrupted as Emma tries to persuade Corey to rejoin the group.
Ian, stop it, then pass it back. Don't you fancy it?
Don't you fancy being in charge of the bag that all the balls are to
go in and collect them all up, moving my cones and blowing the whistle to start and stop them?
Do you think you could do that?
I'll be there to help you. I won't expect you to do it all by yourself.
What do you reckon?
-Yeah, all right then.
-Yeah? Good, thank you.
You know when somebody loses a ball in the assembly, you're not going to shout abuse at them are you?
I felt really angry, really angry cos they keep on winding me up, and I don't really like it.
What do you mean?
Like saying horrible things about me.
School may seem like a separate world, but what happens
in the home often affects what goes on in the classroom.
It's 8.30 in the morning and James is on his way to school.
I've got a couple of awards in class for maths and literacy.
I would say I'm doing well because of all of the...
..certificates I'm getting, but I never show them to my Mum.
-Because she don't come to assembly.
First, I ask her if she's coming to assembly, she says "yeah,"
she never turns up.
I ask her if she would come to the maths one, she never turns up.
4FF have been practising hard for today's class assembly.
All the parents have been invited, along with the rest of the school.
They notice if their parents aren't there and,
it doesn't necessarily matter if it's not parents, but they notice if nobody's there.
If you look at the beginning of the performance, they're looking out
into the audience to see who's there.
James can't see his mum Donna in the audience.
I think we are in for a real treat this afternoon.
Its 4FF's class assembly.
It's called Targets And Talents.
James often receives certificates for his work, which are handed out in assembly.
The school feels that coming along to these would give Donna the chance to praise and encourage her son.
When he's got assemblies and when it's your invitation for assembly,
-does he tell you about things like that?
-Certain ones he does.
-But then it's getting somebody to watch the baby.
-And does he bring his certificates and things home?
-He didn't? Didn't he?
-Cos he gets them quite a lot.
Yeah, Chelsea'll bring hers home but I've not got one up for him.
-He doesn't bring them home.
-That's a real shame, then you could make a real fuss of him.
-Even, if you haven't been able to go to an assembly.
-Cos he does love praise, doesn't he?
-He does, yeah.
-I think for James, self-esteem's a big issue...
-Yeah, it is.
-Anything any of us can do to improve that self esteem.
And there are other ways in which the outside world affects what happens in school.
Go! Go! Go! Go!
Class 4FF are back from swimming.
You need to get a whiteboard and a pen and come and sit down.
Following on from an earlier lesson, the class has been asked to describe how an electric circuit works.
Brief short notes about how an electric circuit works.
And now you need to talk a bit more about where the electricity comes from...
She's just pretending to write.
-She's not writing, is she?
-How it gets there and...
-Maisy has ignored Fiona's instructions and is writing a note for her neighbour.
You're going to make your own explanation text on how electricity works.
Remember, it's not instructions on how to make it, it's an explanation.
Statement about electricity...
and why we need to... And why we need it.
Her friend is unimpressed...
but Maisy carries on.
..what an electric circuit is.
Number three, a paragraph on where the electricity...
In the past, when confronted by her parents, Maisy has denied swearing in class.
..electricity comes from and how it travels.
Now her parents must accept that her behaviour is worse than they thought.
-That was disappointing.
-It was disappointing, yeah.
-That can't be easy to watch.
-I mean... It's upsetting sometimes.
It's like you say, you've told us about it before but then you see it and it's like...
You just feel like...
Where do you think that comes from?
On a weekend, she'll stop up late so, you know, probably ten...
-And after, there's a lot of these normal sort of programmes that use a lot of bad language.
I mean a lot of it is...
she's picked up from, you know, the environment she lives in, I suppose, you know, walking
the street and some of it is when we go onto YouTube and she says, "Oh, can I put this song on?"
-and I'm like "oh, my...". You don't realise...
..until you see the words and like, "No, that's off now".
Maisy is somebody as well, as you sort of see watching the clip,
she likes to get a peer reaction.
Peer feedback is a big thing for Maisy, isn't it?
-Yeah. She does crave attention, be it positive or negative, sometimes.
You all right, James?
There are behaviours from outside school full-stop that
are brought into the classroom and sometimes that's from home, but equally sometimes it's
inappropriate behaviours that are learned at the park from mixing with
older children, it's inappropriate behaviour from watching something on television that's isn't suitable.
You all right Betty-spaghetti?
And I think in our little primary school environment, we're trying
to offer something that's very nurturing and very cosy
and to kind of keep those behaviours at bay.
The children have been told to work
-quietly and on their own.
-Oh, my God!
But not everyone is ready to work.
Miss! He was putting a sharpener down my back.
Are you being a bit silly?
Hold your books up, let me see.
The other children have nearly completed their work,
but Rio is still writing the title at the top of the page.
Look what we've done. Orange group, hold your books up.
-We've nearly finished,
-so I wouldn't be laughing if I were you cos you'll be staying in to do it.
-That's got him.
-OK, put your books down.
I think that's what Rio needs sometimes, a bit of tough love. Definitely.
Shhh! Finish the bit that you are on.
Having watched him in class across the week,
Suzanne and Lee ask the school to take a tougher stance with Rio.
He's got loads to offer but he doesn't always get down to work.
-Yeah, he will take the mick.
-He will, yeah.
-That's why like, what he's doing here,
-he will do it and he know he can do it but he'd rather have a joke and mess about.
It does need pushing in that direction, definitely with Rio.
If you're happy for us to be tough on him...
That's absolutely fine. Definitely.
-I can do that.
-I think he tries to push it a bit, doesn't he?
It's Friday and, in assembly, head teacher Annemarie Williams
rewards those who have behaved well.
Among the prizes given out is one for best class attendance.
Very interesting. OK, so this week...
By an absolute mile, not really surprising, the winning class is...
James is chosen to collect the award.
If you win the attendance, your teacher gets to pick somebody to go up.
Miss Fagan chose me cos I was sitting nicely
and I was paying attention.
-With the weekend looming,
some of the children are finding it even more difficult to focus on class.
-Miss, can I...
-Can we sit down here please?
Just 15 minutes into the lesson and Corey has lost interest.
Corey, Corey, what you doing?
Corey, what are you doing?
-He's trying to tickle me.
-Who? That's why I want you...
Corey ignores Fiona and continues to disrupt the rest of the table.
See? I got caught by the police, they can nail that.
Having watched her son across the week, Rachel now understands that
much of Corey's disruptive behaviour stems from the difficulties he has with learning.
And he needs the praise, as well as discipline, to manage him.
I thought that he was just like the other, I suppose, just a general kid at school doing the work.
You know, I suppose a lot of parents are naive thinking...
"We'll drop the kids at school", we're just assuming
that they are sitting there doing their work, cos after watching that and obviously he seems like
he is quite difficult in the class and now I can understand that you do give him these rewards...
-Yeah. So it might seem...
-It seems, yeah.
..as if we're being a little bit soft touch but we've got to continually give
him that chance to be successful at something, rather than looking at the things that he can't do.
It's the end of the school week.
For the parents, seeing their children in school
for the first time has brought home some uncomfortable truths.
But there are also promises of change.
-OK, have a nice weekend.
-See you later.
-See you Monday.
It was quite upsetting and...
I got quite emotional when I've seen the silliness, you know, I just...
cos it's not, you know, we want Maisy, we really want to push her forward and...
get her moving and, you know, it was quite...
At one point, I felt like saying to the monitor,
"Maisy, stop it", because, you know, I know she can do it.
Donna has resolved to give James more support,
helping him with his homework and coming to assemblies.
Rio's parents are determined to put an end to his poor behaviour in class.
It is helpful because now we know what he's like,
we can try and nip that silly
attitude kind of thing in the bud and get him doing some proper work.
If he had a teacher more on him saying, "Rio,
"you've got to start concentrating", I think he would then do it.
It has really opened my eyes up, definitely, definitely.
When I come to future parent meetings, I feel like I can understand what the teachers
are actually saying and I can, you know, communicate better with the teachers now about Corey.
Two weeks have passed.
It's early days, but are parents and teachers now working together to tackle difficult behaviour?
The four parents that we worked with, I just felt that we...
knew the children better as a result and that the next time something arises that we might need to
discuss, it's going to be so much easier because there's that trust
and that communication already there.
Since watching her class,
Fiona Fagan has made changes in the way she manages it.
The biggest thing I've learnt is that I have to be really careful about where I place myself in the classroom
so that I can focus on not only the group I'm working with, but also
the children that are likely to be chatting.
I'm also much more aware of children that are perhaps disrupting other children that are trying
to work and I act on that quite quickly and move them.
There have been noticeable improvements, too, in the behaviour of some of the children.
Well, my mum got home
and she says that I've been messing around a little bit
and not got on with my work.
So I've got on with my work now
not messing about now.
Rio is a child that now knows that I'm onto him.
I kind of just need to say "Rio, I'm watching"
and he'll stop what he's doing and get on with his work.
He's calmed down quite a lot. He is a joker and he's a happy child anyway and I wouldn't change him
for the world, but I did think he does need
to pull himself away from enticing other children to mess about.
Got to keep stirring it.
Donna is building a good relationship with the school
and spending more time with her son.
I'm trying to change round now and do stuff with him and try and up
his self esteem and so far so good.
Since he's been spending the one-to-one with me,
he seems to be a lot happier in himself and he's not getting into so much trouble.
The last couple of weeks, me and my mum's been cooking.
I've enjoyed it because...
..me and my mum don't get that much time to spend together.
Have a taste.
See what you try, see what you taste.
I tell you what, though, for your first go, that's lovely.
But there are no easy solutions in trying to manage behaviour in busy schools.
With James, I feel that we've got to a place of better understanding
with Mum and Mum with James, and so it's been positive
in that sense and you would hope that eventually,
that will have a knock on effect on James's behaviour.
There's a long way to go for Corey.
First, he needs help with his struggle to learn.
I don't know why I don't like school cos
it learns you lots of things.
I find it really difficult sometimes...
The school and Rachel are now working more closely together to solve the problem.
They've suggested bringing like a specialist teacher to come in and help him along,
because he's so far behind.
I've just got to leave a lot to the teacher's hands
and keep as much in touch with the school to find out what's happening,
whether he's progressing with that.
As for Maisy, she's spending more time reading and doing homework...
and she's going to bed earlier.
Maisy's now much more alert and awake and you can tell that she has
been having early nights, or earlier nights, and because I'm more onto her, she hasn't got the opportunity
to be disruptive or be silly or distract others around her.
Since my mum and dad have seen the video, I've tried to act a bit more gooder
because I want my mum and dad to be proud of me.
Miss Fagan says my work is a bit improving
and I'm not that naughty and I don't swear that much any more.
The plan for the future is to keep going with what
we've implemented already and not to slack on it, really.
We've seen what some of the good pupils can do at school and, you know, some...
We want Maisy to be able to...
Yeah, we want Maisy to be up there with them.
Watching the classroom has brought parents and teachers together,
helping both sides to understand more about their children.
The final test will be in whether it brings lasting change.
# Today is gonna be the day that we're gonna throw it back to you... #
It's definitely been worth it.
The pay-offs for us as a school, in terms of the relationship that we've built with those parents,
it's been brilliant for us to watch the footage
and just reflect on what we do and what works and what doesn't work.
So if we could film children once a year and show it to their parents,
we probably would.
CHILDREN SING: # I'm sure You've heard it all before
# But you've never really had a doubt
# I don't believe that anybody
# Feels the way I do About you now... #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Email [email protected]
In the first experiment of its kind on TV, parents in a primary school in Leicester are given a unique opportunity to see how their children really behave behind the classroom door.The film shows the challenges teachers face and the effect, on all pupils, of low-level disruption - estimated to cost schools across Britain three weeks of teaching every year. The usually secret life of a Year 4 class is filmed by fixed cameras over the course of one week, after which some of the parents are invited to see what their child has got up to. The film shows surprising - sometimes shocking - results for both teachers and parents and asks - who's really responsible for how our children behave in class?