Developing bad behaviour in KS2 has biggest impact on pupil attainment

Report finds that children displaying troublesome behaviours early can recover later to achieve higher results

The idea that children who act out in class get lower grades will come as little surprise. Those who are causing distracting behaviours for the whole class are unlikely to be concentrating as hard as those who show no such behaviour.

But new research from Praveetha Patalay, Elian Fink, Peter Fonagy and Jessica Deighton, funded by the DfE, found that children whose problem behaviours developed earlier, then improved between Years 4 and 6, did better than those whose behaviour worsened in the later years of primary school.

The research examined the behaviour of 5,400 8-11-year-olds from 138 schools in England, and showed that those who developed behaviours such as getting angry, hitting out or breaking things, during their time in Key Stage 2, were the worst performers in Year 6 SATs.

Percentage of children who met the government’s KS2 targets:
No/low problem behaviours – 77 per cent
Slightly increasing problem behaviours – 69 per cent
Increasing problem behaviours to high levels – 51 per cent
Decreasing from high levels to no problem behaviours – 67 per cent
High problem behaviours that decrease slightly but are still substantial – 57 per cent
Stable high problem behaviours – 59 per cent

These figures suggest that the learning lag caused by these behaviours can be hard to make up, but that those who are improving their behaviour do better than those whose classroom actions are in decline. In turn, this suggests that early intervention could be key to stopping these learning lags and getting children making progress again as soon as possible.