I started teaching in 1997 and have seen over the years a real change in the behaviour of young people in our schools. Contrary to public opinion behaviour has markedly improved. When I first entered the profession as a young teacher in inner city London, I would be met by a barrage of abuse and flying paper balls. An international study by the World Health Organisation found that 15-year olds drink less, have less sex and find it easier to talk to their fathers. These statistics perhaps explain why the wild behaviour that I witnessed in my youth has given way to more serious minded and studious young people.
The behaviour of 20 years ago has been replaced by different issues. Students are more likely to disrupt lessons through inattention and an inability to concentrate or focus. We pick up more mental health issues and issues of self-image and depression. We find that many of our boys come to school, semi-conscious, having played Fortnite or Fifa 19 until the early hours of the morning. We also pick up relationship issues fuelled by social media spats that then spill into our corridors and classrooms.
Similar international research suggests that the happiness of our young people is not improving and that they are becoming more socially isolated. At Moor Park we ban phones, don’t over utilise ICT and instead focus on developing human relationships as being the key driver to improving the life chances of teenagers. The adults need to be in charge, as unfettered access to the online world seems to be pacifying our children, whilst simultaneously making them unhappier.