Bad behaviour in Australian classrooms and large-scale bullying is causing students to struggle, according to damning new reports.
Naughty and disruptive children have been blamed for causing Aussie students to fall behind the rest of the world in key subjects such as maths and science.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham has demanded a “zero tolerance" approach to bad behaviour in classrooms after the two major international reports were released on Wednesday.
The reports suggest that some classes are so chaotic with “noise and disorder” that up to half of the students could not hear the teacher.
The underachievement of students in Australian schools is linked to discipline problems and rampant bullying, the reports suggest.
Poor students are also about three years behind in their schooling compared with their richer peers.
The Program for International Student Assessment, which assessed 14,500 15-year-olds at 758 schools, found Australia scored “significantly lower than the OECD average” for classroom discipline levels.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study reports that 20 per cent of Year 4 students and nine per cent of Year 8 students are bullied regularly.
“This research demonstrates that more money spent within a school doesn’t automatically buy you better discipline, engagement or ambition,” Mr Birmingham said.
“While governments are investing ever more in addressing disadvantage, we need communities and families to focus on how we simultaneously change behaviour and attitudes.
“Ill-discipline or a bad attitude doesn’t only hurt the outcomes of the student who brings such an approach to school but can infect entire classrooms of students,” Birmingham added.
Labor's education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the results clearly showed poorer kids in poorer schools needed more help to catch up to their peers.
"Disadvantage is the biggest thing holding Australian schoolkids back," she said.
"We know the solution is giving the most extra support to the schools that need it."