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Primary teachers key to good behaviour

11/08/2016 Joanna

Having a positive relationship with teachers while at primary school is key to good behaviour among teenagers, new research has shown.

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Cambridge University, showed that pupils are less aggressive in secondary school if they've created a good relationship with their teachers earlier in life.

According to the results of the study, the key years where these positive relationships take effect are when the child is aged ten to eleven, as this is when they are most likely to develop "pro-social" behaviours such as co-operation and altruism.

These are important when it comes to reducing things that can become a problem in the classroom among teenagers, such as aggression and oppositional behaviour. 

Most importantly, the study showed that these positive relationships were as important, and at times even more important, than some tactics to solve bad behaviour after it is already an issue.

The study's lead author Dr Ingrid Obsuth said: "Teachers play an important role in the development of children. Students who feel supported tend to be less aggressive and more pro-social, and we now have evidence that this is the case from pre-school right through to adolescence. Educational and school policies should take this into consideration when supporting teachers in fostering their relationships with students."

In addition, the study highlighted the ongoing positive effect that supportive teachers can have, showing that students who felt particularly supported were more likely to remember their teachers in the future.

It concluded that "building healthy and supportive teacher-student relationships" should be incorporated into teacher training for both the curriculum and intervention programmes to ensure that adolescents are given the most opportunities to do well at school.

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