43% of secondary teachers say discipline is getting worse

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More than four in five second-level teachers have seen discipline get worse or remain unimproved in the last five years.

More than four in five second-level teachers have seen discipline get worse or remain unimproved in the last five years.

An online survey of almost 1,000 teachers found that disciplining students is the biggest challenge for just over one in four respondents — slightly more than the number whose main challenge is lesson preparations.

With 72% of the participants saying they have been teaching since before 2011, more than 980 teachers answered a question about how discipline in their schools today compares to five years ago.

The survey of those using the exam preparation website Studyclix.ie found that 43% of teachers believe discipline is getting worse.

Another 39% said there has been little change in the past five years, and just 18% feel it is getting better.

Around 8% cited students’ use of smartphones as the biggest challenge in their day-to-day teaching, a bigger issue than all others except discipline, lesson preparation, lack of job security (10%), and dealing with management (9%).

Asked if they would favour a complete ban on mobile phones from schools, 60% said they would.

While more than one third do not agree with such a ban, small numbers reported that this is already policy in their schools, with others saying they would allow some limited use of phones in class.

Teachers are reporting that phone use is an ever-growing hindrance in their classrooms,” said Studyclix founder Luke Saunders. “This echoes our most recent student survey, where we found mobile phone use pervasive across classrooms.

More than two thirds of the teachers said they are users of Facebook, with just over one third being active on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, or a combination. One in five said they do not use any of these platforms.

The survey shows that 90% of respondents consider their jobs stressful, with 7% saying it is constantly the case. Nearly one third find it stressful “a lot of the time” and it is stressful sometimes for half of the participants.

A love of their subject or subjects was the strongest reason for half of the teachers joining the profession, and working with young people was the biggest factor for more than a quarter.

More than one in six (17.5%) teachers were most attracted by the work-life balance going with the job, and a very small proportion cited the holidays associated with teaching.

With more than one in four of the teachers only in the job since 2011, when reduced pay was introduced for new entrants, the survey found a significant pay differential.

For those who began teaching after 2011, average monthly take-home pay is €600 less than the €2,674 of their longer-serving counterparts.

Among the 38% who have not bought a home, nearly two-thirds do not feel they would be in a position to buy one within a half-hour commute of their schools.

There was 98% support for the restoration of pay equality for all teachers, an ambition that will be high on the agenda of all three primary and second-level teacher unions at their annual conferences next week.

However, while 91% of those who answered the survey are in a union, less than two thirds of them feel they are well represented.

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