Disruptive behaviour in the classroom has an adverse effect on both teachers and pupils. It is a common source of stress for teachers and often a catalyst for leaving the profession. For pupils it may affect mental health, academic attainment and adversely impact on all children in a classroom.
Researchers from the Child Health Group at the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry (PCMD), University of Exeter, have received funding of £1.7m to test the effectiveness of the Incredible Years Teacher Classroom Management (TCM) course, a US initiative. The course has the potential to transform the classroom experience for both pupils and teachers, reduce the number of exclusions from school, assist the most vulnerable children in our society and provide cost-savings by reducing demands on educational support and mental health services.
The project is titled The Supporting Teachers And children in Schools (STARS) study and it is supported by the National Institute for Health Research Peninsula Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (NIHR PenCLAHRC).
The research team has already carried out an initial feasibility study with a small number of primary schools. For STARS they will work with teachers from 80 primary schools in the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay local education authorities, starting in September this year. Teachers will be from Reception to Year Four, which means that the pupils will be aged four to nine years when the study starts. The study will run for five years in total.
STARS will test whether a teacher's attendance at a TCM course will improve a child's socio-emotional well-being; his or her academic attainment; the teacher's emotional well-being; and the teacher's belief that they are able to manage behaviour in the classroom more effectively and less stressfully.
The research team will measure socio-emotional well-being using the well-known and robust Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. This will be completed by teachers and the parents of their pupils before and after the TCM course, and at one and two years after that. Academic progress will be measured using the National Curriculum standard levels used in all state schools. The team will also measure teachers' sense of professional effectiveness, their emotional well-being and whether they feel work-related stress to see if the TCM course leaves teachers feeling more confident, motivated and less stressed.