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How much say should students have?

09:33 UK time, Saturday, 3 April 2010

A teaching union has said pupils are wrongly being used to interview prospective teachers and give feedback on how well they perform in class. Should students be involved in the selection process?

The concept of student voice was developed in the early 1990s as a way of allowing pupils to participate in school decision making. The NASUWT union says involving pupils in making judgements about the suitability for posts and competence in the classroom is unacceptable. It also says the system is being abused by head teachers seeking legitimacy for their arguments.

But the Association of School and College Leaders general secretary, Dr John Dunford, says students are very astute at "articulating what works well and how weaker areas could be improved in the classroom" and it is useful to have students views about interviewees.

How far should student participation go? How should pupils participate in decision making? Are you a teacher, a parent or a student? What are your experiences of student voice?


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  • Comment number 1.

    Students should have very little say in how their school is run. The younger ones because they do not have any idea of what life's all about, and the older ones because they should be thinking ahead to the world of work.
    Don't like wearing uniform? Try that one if you are planning to join any of the emergency services, or the armed forces. Would like a longer lunch break? Try that on in a company where the norm is a quick sandwich at your work station.
    What may seem like a good idea in a school simply falls apart in the big bad world outside theschool gates. Suggestions regarding the menu for school lunches or perhaps the style of any uniform are one thing, but important matters must be decided by people who are a bit more worldly wise.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a stupid idea, next we will have students marking their own tests.

  • Comment number 3.

    In the 70-80 when i was at school we had a school council that was basically an new boys club for friends of a small group of students.

    They came up with odd idears and often supported the teachers during industral action.

    Roll on 30years and see where one of the group is and you will find him a cabinate member of the current goverment, still in my opinion comming up with silly policies and reacting to events instead of pre-empting and managering them.

  • Comment number 4.

    They should have no say. They are not students, they are pupils who are there to learn what adults have defined for them as a basis for understanding their rights and responsibilities as a citizen. Until such time as they have completed this and theoretically matured enough to develop views of their own, they have and should have no say.

    Pathetic idea.

  • Comment number 5.

    Ha ha, Is this for real? A late April Fool joke, surely?
    Children interviewing applicant teachers..?

    Only in New Labour UK.

  • Comment number 6.

    Do I perceive a world turned upside down?

    Or is this another facet of the fact that the Gods have decided to destroy Britain?

    Or have I lived too long?

  • Comment number 7.

    Having listened to the Today programme this morning I was appalled to learn that pupils were able to take part in interviewing teachers applying for jobs. In some cases influencing the decision.

    One pupil actually asked one of the candidates to sing and how would he or she appear as on Britains got Talent'

  • Comment number 8.

    I am a secondary teacher who qualified in citizenship. I know what the thinking is behind empowering pupils but I personally don't agree with many of the current educational policies because they are idealistic and out of touch with the realities of the world.

    The intentions are good but things rarely work in practice as initially perceived when working them out in theory.

    Too much power and choice is a bad thing for youngsters because they are not mature enough to make all the sensible decisions. Children often make decisions without looking at the long term consequences because they lack life experience. Additionally, many are too self centred to think about the consequencies those decisions have on others.

  • Comment number 9.

    How can pupils who have yet to be educated have any credibility interviewing teachers. At their age and IQ level they have no clear understanding of what their priorities should be. Children have no conception of what will be important to them in the future so how can they make an effective judgement on who should teach them. Once again this demonstrates how far our educationalists have allowed education in this country to fall , when they want to let the kids make the decisions.

  • Comment number 10.

    Anyone of the age of 12-16 who is a skilled interviewer enough to ask questions and interpret their answers in deciding whether a teacher "fits" or not must be extremely rare. I think it's a daft idea. Very next thing schoolkids will be able to sack teachers with whom they have a brush up.

    Daft. A nice sentiment that should never have got into practice. Some do-gooder's brain-f*rt.

  • Comment number 11.

    Students should have no say. They're in school to learn.

  • Comment number 12.

    I think students should give feedback and suggestions which are then reviewed by teachers.

    Some children are smarter than they get credit for and should not be excluded from providing potential great ideas because they are 'children.' The teachers should then be using their experience and judgement to decide which ideas can add value.

    Having said that, allowing children to interview teachers is farcical in my opinion, they lack both the skills and experience to judge a teacher's ability to provide a high quality educational experience.

  • Comment number 13.

    Students should consider if that is the road they wish to embark on. Too many youngsters start off in university then decide to drop out if they don't like it.Once in they should stay in and get their qualifications keeping their heads down.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 15.

    The origins of the notion of student voice (or 'pupil' voice - I prefer to retain the use of 'student' for further and higher education) lie in the educational theory of Pierre Bourdieu, which in turn draw on Marxist theories of conflict and French structuralism. In short, Bourdieu perceives school management in terms of a clash in power relationships between the powerful 'teachers' and the marginalized 'pupils'. The former are able to dictate what constitutes 'knowledge', while the latter are 'forced' to accept the dominant ideology and comply with the requirement to learn what is valued by the powerful in order to succeed. Educationalists who follow Bourdieu therefore wish to 'problematize' school relationships and management, arguing that the pupils bring their own 'cultural capital' to the educational process, which must be given equal value to the cultural capital of those in power. The implication of this position is that 'knowledge' is not 'owned' by one side, and the educational process is one of 'constructing knowledge' through communication, rather than simply 'acquiring' the values and tastes of the powerful elites.

    This is still the staple of many educational journals, and much educational research is ideologically driven by a fundamental belief that all social organization (including schools) is based on a clash of power in which those with cultural capital usually win, and therefore gain economic benefits as well. This is in keeping with much of the more pessimistic philosophy emanating from France in the 20th Century (eg. Foucault).

    If, on the other hand, we believe that the educational experience at school is one that is supposed to produce literate and numerate citizens with the question of power relations diminishes. Nor do we have to give in to the view that ‘knowledge’ is socially and culturally constructed. If everything were transient mankind would not have achieved what it has. As the philosopher Richard Rorty wrote: “Primary and secondary education will always be a matter of familiarizing the young with what their elders take to be true, whether it is true or not....If pre-college education produces literature citizens and college education produces self-creating individuals, then questions about whether students are being taught the truth can safely be neglected” (Philosophy and Social Hope, p. 118).

    School management and learning should not be conducted on the assumption that pupils are being marginalized, and that ‘knowledge’ is created by the interaction of pupil with teacher and school organization. The only outcome can be conflict, and the failure of the system to produce ‘literate citizens'.

  • Comment number 16.

    They brought out this trendy idea when my daughter was in secondary school. They were asked to put forward ideas on what some funding could be spent on. Overwhelmingly they voted that some lockers should be provided to save them having to hump bags full of school books about all day. The money was spent on replacing some benches.

    Heads will only accept pupil input when it agrees with their own ideas of how the school should be run.

  • Comment number 17.

    Suggestions regarding the menu for school lunches or perhaps the style of any uniform are one thing, but important matters must be decided by people who are a bit more worldly wise.
    Unfortunately, world experience is sadly in short supply in this context. Educational decisions are made by teachers, lecturers, academics and advisers who have no experience of the world outside our educational system. Most have never left the classroom, or ever stepped into an office or onto a factory floor.

  • Comment number 18.

    I am not sure I believe this, is this some sort of late Aprils fools joke?

    Teachers being made to sing songs and being insulted by being called Humpty Dumpty, this truly is Nu Labour PC madness at its' maddest moment.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is very wrong - who comes up with such ideas and who decides to put this into practice. A secondary teacher i know has been subjected to extreme pressure by the management because a few kids (less than 5%) said they dont like the fact that the teacher puts too much pressure on kids to achieve results in sciences. The junior teachers are stuck between a rock and a boulder - the school management, the kids, the parents, the LEA's, the minister - all are after them. Teachers dont get paid as much as Dr's and dont get as much respect either. I would like to know how many new teachers of science/maths survive in the profession beyond 2/3/4/5 years and how many quit to join the City jobs. The unions are also not helping by being divisive on this issue of supporting junior teachers - it is scandalous.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    I believe that it is good for secondary school pupils to feel that they can have input into school policies and procedures through a democratically elected school council. This will help them in all sorts of important ways, providing it is properly supervised and managed and does not become cliquey or silly.

    However, allowing individual pupils to sit on interview panels and/or assess teachers' performance is not appropriate, as there are many ways these children can be influenced and their judgement may not be mature or carefully considered. It may also be highly damaging to the teacher, who may be excellent but the children do not 'like' him/her because s/he is strict or has high expectations for behaviour and discipline.

    Children have little enough respect for teachers as it is, without allowing them to feel they can determine the success or failure of their careers.

  • Comment number 22.

    As a lecturer in FE, I'm all for the 'learners voice' incentive and using it to empower students, who need to be encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning. Teachers today are doing the lion's share of the work, and something needs to give!
    I can also see the obvious benefits of assessment FOR learning - where students grade each other and assess themselves - reading over others work facilitates collaboration and helps to pool knowledge, whilst self assessment is a useful transferrable skill.
    If the correct guidelines are followed, these teaching and learning methods can be very useful for evaluation purposes. Also, with the funding cuts that are about to be made in education, which will no doubt result in teachers having to manage larger classes, we shall need all the help we can get to work smarter (so we're told)!
    However, young pupils and students are NOT qualified when it comes to making judgements about professional staff!

  • Comment number 23.

    An African saying advised us not to make a man out of a child until they are old enough and wise. That is why they have initiation right of passage. And you should never give a child a match to play, unless you want the child to burn down the house. Head teachers are asking children to do their dirty jobs for them. Turning them into bullies, that scare the teachers. No wonder there are so many misbehaved children around. They complaint about little silly things. We do not want to wear uniform, do you want to be a Police officer, a Nurse or Army? And I pray you will never go into Prison. We want long lunch hours,the Nurses do not have long breaks. Infact, they have a quick cup of tea and return to care for their patients. Many do not have breaks on many days. The list of what they want goes on and what have they put in? How do we want them to cope in future? No employer will take on any rotten egg. They may have a say, but it should be on how to improve their own behaviours, be good and respectiful students, get good grades, and be good citizens. They should not sit in panel that assess their tutors, it is an abuse of Teachers. The Almighty student should not be burdened with the dirty politics of the Staff room, and definitely, they should not be used by any head teacher to clean their bins. It is abuse of children.

  • Comment number 24.

    Excellent!! This ridiculous "cult of the child" must stop. No matter how often the do-gooders and psychologists bleat on about it being a universal truth, most children are not young adults.

    Is there any surprise that these "pupil representatives" are ill-equipped to make reasonable comment as to the capabilities of a prospective teacher? Having sat on several panels as a parent governor, I know it's hard enough to get a reasoned opinion from an adult!!

    Isn't this like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas? Are pupil reps really going to help select someone who will push his/her classes to their maximum potential - or will they prefer someone who appears to be vacillatory or could be manipulated?

    Who, in their teenage years, chose to do what was good for their propsects in preference to what they wanted to do at the time? I suggest few of us. Why, then, do we invite the uncommitted to participate in decisions that are likely to affect the standing of the school? Select teachers on proven effectiveness rather than a few pupils' collective power trip!

  • Comment number 25.

    I am a teacher and I welcome students comments about my teaching good or bad. A good teacher, who is doing his or her job properly, should have nothing to fear from student comments. In my opinion only those who do little or no preparation, cannot communicate with students, or are unfair to them in some way etc have anything to fear, and rightly so. After all the only other way most teachers teaching is checked is by observations by senior staff two or three times a year, usually for only one lesson, with advance warning. Students who have to sit through hour after hour of a teachers teaching have a much better picture of whether said teacher actually cuts the mustard or not. Obviously their comments would have to be moderated by the Senior Leadership Team and the only problem that would arise would be if they weren't doing their job properly. However, if they weren't, students would be able to communicate that to Ofsted too. Students only get one real chance at education and if it isn't the very best possible then they lose out, possibly for the rest of their lives!! I say make far more use of student voice and weed out weak and ineffectual staff!

  • Comment number 26.

    Another stupid PC idea. Pupils are there to learn not to dictate to those who teach.

  • Comment number 27.

    JDCAMERAMAN wrote:
    This akin to getting the lunatics to run the asylum !

    My friend had an interview once for a post in Mental Health. The patients were interviewing the candidates. If they didn't like you, no job offer. It should not be a case of whether you are liked, should be whther you are good at your job.

    I agree with the teachers, pupils should have no say in this.

  • Comment number 28.

    "Should students be involved in the selection process of teachers?"

    No. I've never heard anything so ridiculous. Quite honestly, I can't even believe that any sane person would need to ask this question.

  • Comment number 29.

    If we are going down that road of pupils secting teachers.then it should apply to ALL public matters , For example .We the voters should be able to select both party MP candiates before an election ,also pick canidates for the house of lords ..That way at the voters could reject canidates before a general election... It would stop house of commons rejects going the lords by using back door entrance..

  • Comment number 30.

    Soap-dodging, permanently wasted, naive left wing ideologues should not be allowed to have any influence in anything that affects anyone.

  • Comment number 31.

    From the perspective of a parent, I like to think that the thoughts and opinions of my son and daughter are 'taken into account' and that they do have a say in certain parts of the decision making processes in the school. Certain parts. For example, at the school in which I currently teach, I feel it has been a good thing to encourage debate on aspects such as how the physical environment might be improved. But in the context of what I can only describe as an over-indulgent, simpering attitude towards pupils, it is creating young people who are becoming increasingly arrogant and for whom the notion of listening (because the adult in front of you might acutally know what they are talking about) is being eroded. I feel that the culture of expertise, of recognising purely and simply that one human being might actually have something of worth to pass on and that this will best be fostered in an environment of respect, is disappearing. Couple that with the over-exuberant celebrations of mediocrity which have become a mainstay of daily life in school (how can so much be 'fantastic', 'excellent', 'amazing'....?)and you do have fertile ground for smug, self-satisfied ignorance.

  • Comment number 32.

    Who dreams up these ridiculous scenarios. How can students of whatever age be allowed to interview teachers for jobs ?

    This akin to getting the lunatics to run the asylum !or labour or conservatives running the country what a joke! Still they got to get their expenses somewhere!!!

  • Comment number 33.

    This is nothing new - 25 years ago when the Grammar I was attending was selecting a new head teacher all the prospective candidates had a sit down interview with small groups of pupils, of which I was one.

  • Comment number 34.

    I had to read this twice before I took it in. I could not believe that a student is permitted to interview a teacher. Interviewing is a skill that usually needs many years of practice to get to a competent level.
    It is an absolute no brainer that kids will pick the cool teacher over the disciplinarian (Do turkeys vote for Christmas ?). But if the school needs someone tough or simply comes across a strong candidate who doesn't interview well how can a child be expected to make the right decision in those circumstances. If this concept was not so frightening it would be funny.

  • Comment number 35.

    How much say should students have in choosing their teachers?

    Exactly the same amount of say that teachers have in choosing their students...


  • Comment number 36.

    More Labour madness.

    What say should pupils have in selecting their new teacher?



  • Comment number 37.

    We really have to get rid of this Government and its barking ideas. We need to get rid of SATS and this crazy idea of children influencing the appointment of teachers and allow teachers to TEACH. If we allowed that, then maybe we would see real skills growth instead of manipulated improvements but a reduction in the basic skills. The real tragedy of this is that its people who grew up in the 60's and 70's and had pretty good educations who have used their crackpot ideas to ruin the chances of the current generation of pupils.

  • Comment number 38.

    The world has simply gone mad.

    Under New Labour we have produced one of the thickest generations of young people that I can remember. Many struggle to read and write by the time they leave school and industry leaders are now complaining about this as well.

    Why not just be done with it and get rid of the teachers althogether? Let the kids teach each other on how to take drugs, have sex and spend a life on benefits as that's where we're heading.

    Gone are the days of responsibility for your actions and your own achievements. Now we punish success, reward failure and blame everyone other than ourselves for our failures. We tolerate intolerable behaviour and accept it as the norm and we feel that society owes us something for nothing.

  • Comment number 39.

    A really stupid idea.

  • Comment number 40.

    It is an infringement of the pupils human rights if they are not allowed to choose their own teachers. More power to the children...

  • Comment number 41.

    Recommend #1.

    In addition, there should remain a clear 'marker pen' line between teachers and pupils/students, unless the pupils want to help the teacher with Government paperwork??

    Furthermore, it would be more constructive if every parent took the trouble, and were allowed, to take the place of their child/children, randomly, just to see how bad some pupil behavior can be?
    Or, parents of disruptive children to observe evidence of damage to other peoples' children?

    How could this be achieved? Well, there are sooooo many education experts out there - they are well-paid and should get their heads around these basics first?

  • Comment number 42.

    Pupils interview prospective teachers? Is this a belated Aprils fool joke?

  • Comment number 43.

    We have a school council in the school I teach at . It spends a lot of time achieving and influencing precisely nothing. They took part in an interview for a Deputy Headship earlier this year (Not the formal one, I hasten to add) .
    The 'Learner's voice ' is a dangerous idea which is actually hampering genuine teaching and learning . Well done the NASUWT for actually throwing light on the left-led nonsense which has been going on in schools for years .
    Its not new incidentally . It first came in about 25 years ago.

  • Comment number 44.

    It depends on the kinds of question they ask. If their questions are astute and pertinent then I don't see why their opinions shouldn't form a part (but only a part) of the overall selection process. If, on the other hand, they're as witless as the student who asked what the teacher would do if they were on Britain's Got Talent then they should be completely ignored.

  • Comment number 45.

    Well if it's ok by the government for this to happen, why not expand it so that we can sit in on cabinet meetings or help the prime minister choose ministers, or how about criminals helping pick high court judges, or patients helping to employ the next doctor. How about motorists helping to chose the roadbuilders. Hey this could be expanded into every job decision. How about us viewers picking the next head of BBC or indeed having a say on every BBC job, sitting in on the interviews, I'll volunteer.

  • Comment number 46.

    As a student in both school and college I was asked to help interview teachers for a post. This took the form of the teacher being asked to teach a class on a set topic. Afterwards we were asked for our comments. In my view this is a fair method of assesment as, 1) pupils know the difference between a good and bad teacher, 2)we would be taught by the teacher so had a stake in their performance, 3)How is this any different to any other form of worked base testing at an interview?

    Used correctly, involving students (especially more mature students) in selecting teachers is a very effective method of interview. The NUT seem to value their jobs above student satisfaction and quality of learning.

  • Comment number 47.

    No. The vast majority of 15 year olds if given the vote would get rid of exams, homework, maths, science and most other things they don't like, think are boring, but are actually beneficial for them. You'd really think an adult panel of interviewers would be capable of finding quality teachers surely..

  • Comment number 48.

    I disagree with what seem to be the majority of comments here.

    If pupils are at school to learn, then they should be doing that.
    To me, learning is not just about sitting down, shutting up, and listening to what teacher says. Yes, pupils will pass exams that way, but is that all they need to learn?
    I say let the pupils have their say, let them choose how their school is run. its there for them, after all. Maybe if pupils were brought up from an early age thinking "I don't like this, I want to change it" then there wouldnt be the massive levels of apathy seen in todays society. A child who can vote or have a say, AND MAKE A DIFFERENCE, at an early age, will see this, and will be far more likely as he gets older to be more vocal about their opinions, vote in elections, make a stand.

    So, I believe pupils should have a say, yes. obviously you wouldnt want a 5 year old writing the national curriculum, but the voice of the pupil should be listened to. After all, the only reason the school is there is for them!

  • Comment number 49.

    Wow think of all the contributions the youth of today could bring to schooling, Baseball caps and Kappa for the school uniform, six hours of lessons a day on the musical study of N-Dubz.
    PE classes to include, how to carry your knife, and proper stabbing technique.
    The installation of weak minded teachers, to enlarge the already colossal authority void that is so prevalent in the youth of today.
    This is blue sky thinking at its best!

  • Comment number 50.

    Funny how we hold children criminally responsible because they're mature enough to understand their actions but not enough to do something as basic about how their school is run.

    In a comeback to poster number one, "kids don't want to wear uniform try the army or the emergency services" in those professions your uniform keeps you/others alive, hardly a comparison. They are also pretty much the only professions that do. I would also point out kids have a shorter lunch break than office workers.

    This sounds like a decent idea in theory but it would fall down in practice. However the chances are that once we move past the obvious suggestions of no uniform and longer lunch breaks they might come out with some good ideas. Kids often know the dark truth about schools that no one else knows. Kids are written at off in primary schools as "bad kids" and are mistreated by teachers for the rest of their student life. This is a dark truth no one want to hear, kids know this and would doubtless bring it up if they had any say in how their school was run.

  • Comment number 51.

    The headline and article are confused and they illustrate the problem; a student is a more mature person who accepts their own responsibility to study and learn and as such could have a say in who they learn from; a pupil (which is what the article is about) is too young and immature and has to be taught, and therefore is in no position to decide who teaches them.

    Most of the problems with British education arise from the reluctance to recognise this important difference. When we have primary school teachers describing their job as "facilitating learning" instead of teaching it is hardly surprising we have the worst educated school leavers in the developed world (according to the OECD).

  • Comment number 52.

    Regarding POST 25...

    You may not have yet had the misfortune of dealing with a bunch of unruly kids who dont want to study anything. And your headteacher may not have opted for selective hearing of views (only listening to views against you) as yet, but in your long career ahead, you may face such a situation and then your view will become more mature and sensible.
    From what i have heard of the presurres which teachers face, its not worth it to be a teacher - no wonder the govt offers so many incentives to attract new teachers and then most quit in 2/3 years.

  • Comment number 53.

    This is madness; but so is much of what goes on in schools today: no discipline; pupils with no real interest in learning and even less in working- many just want to be celebrities; higher priority given to a teachers's ability to entertain than to impart knowledge; "exams" that a well trained monkey could attempt.

    Also, many school management posts are already filled by people of limited quality, selected by local councillors whose judgement, in my experience, is certainly no better than that of the pupils.

  • Comment number 54.

    Very little!

  • Comment number 55.

    I don't believe that FE/HE students or primary/secondary education pupils should be allowed *that* level of power (of being able to sit in and interview prospective teachers)...that's ridiculous. But I do believe that there should be some liaison system by which feedback can be given on the quality of the syllabus, teaching style, or alternative learning methods that might help.

    When I was a student, I served as a staff/student liaison officer, and fulfilled exactly these duties. I was also put before a panel of the higher-ups of the university to feed back on a recent academic year-structure change. I believe that if the feedback is well-thought-out, and doesn't just amount to "this is boring" (you'd naturally select and value the opinions of those who are there because they actually want to make something of their lives, not those who go because they're legally obligated and do nothing but muck around and disrupt everyone else), and is actually *acted upon* (something open to debate as far as my university was concerned), then there is no reason whatsoever that the voice shouldn't be heard.

    I think what the majority of the anti- commentators on this forum are forgetting is that education is not for the benefit of the teacher. It's a consumer commodity these days, and I think people ought to get what they perceive to be value for money from it. We certainly don't from University!

  • Comment number 56.

    5. At 10:06am on 03 April 2010, TheWalrus 999 wrote "" Ha ha, Is this for real? A late April Fool joke, surely?
    Children interviewing applicant teachers..?""

    ""Only in New Labour UK.""

    You say this but surely, this is smack in line with Micheal Groves
    Education ideas, the conversation in a Neo Conservative house ( a House hold with PC Parents?)going something like this
    "yes Johnny"
    "My school isn't very good neither are the Teachers",
    "okay Johnny we will start our own school where the Teachers will be Perfect"
    Only in a Neo Conservative mind as said by the Swedish Education minister.
    Ironically in a old fashioned Conservative household Johnny would be caned for having a opinion.

  • Comment number 57.

    Depends what you want your kids to turn out like. Many of the experimental schools that started up after WWII (and since closed) produced a great many extraordinary gifted and creative children who went on to have successful careers. Whereas our modern 'comprehensive' system seems designed to produce obedient little drone clones who'll just go on to accept any working conditions and quietly and uncomplainingly keep earning more money for the fat cats. No chance of any of them becoming entrepreneurs or inventors or great artists etc.

    Haven't you noticed that the most successful people that this country produces are usually the ones who didn't fit in, were rebellious, or failed academically? Our education system is not designed to forge creative and independent thinking, but these are the very things that this country needs. This country's output and achievements have declined dramatically over the last 60-70 years, and the only reason is how we're brainwashing our children: they are not blank slates, some are a lot brighter than others, but the socialist comprehensive system prevents the gifted ones from rising to the top. Many bright children are knocked back, simply because they were unable to fit into a system that wasn't designed for them.

    Our education system needs redesigning from the bottom up: a sound basis in the three R's, better English, less effort in trying to make all children reach the same level (which has only resulted in everyone being at the level of the lowest common denominator) etc. The mistake of the comprehensive system, although well intentioned in that it tried to remove privilege from education, was to assume that it was ONLY privilege, or the lack of it, that prevented children from achieving their full potential. But not every child is going to be a genius, even if they are given the greatest education they can have. This needs to be recognised, and we need a system whereby the best and brightest kids (our future) get the education and opportunities they deserve, regardless of their parent's wealth, and the rest, while not denied the opportunity to move up (as in the old class system) still get a sound basic education to the level they desire.

    This country needs its truck drivers as much as it needs its boffins: there's no point in trying to make every child a boffin: all that has happened is that we now have a nation of truck drivers.

    So, if giving students a voice helps them develop independent thinking, and they are helped to understand the consequences of their words, instead of (for example) simply seeking revenge against a teacher that gave them detention, then I'm all for it.

    The alternative dooms us all to more of the same society we're all complaining about now. If you want to change society for the better, start with the young.

  • Comment number 58.

    Pupil Councils are one thing - having pupils make suggestions for the improvement of the school is fine. But sitting in on, and taking part in, interview panels for teachers' promotion is daft beyond words. It should have been filed away in the folder marked "Ideas you wouldn't dare show to a psychiatrist" and forgotten about.

    As can be seen from some of the reported comments from pupils, this seriously and significantly alters the relationship between pupil and teacher - and does so in a way that damages both. A teacher is entitled to be a figure of authority in her classroom - a position that is eroded if her pupils will be the people deciding her next promotion; what next? Disciplinary procedures? Similarly, pupils are entitled to an educational environment where they can make mistakes safely - putting them in a position where they have to make decisions that have serious and lasting consequences for others is just plain wrong.

  • Comment number 59.

    Which "do-gooder" thought up this crazy idea? I agree that students should be engaged in their teachers' general capabilities but any assessment should be left to the headmaster/mistress and the LEA. It is a fact that some teachers only seem to able to teach their brightest students and leave others struggling to learn and dispirited.

  • Comment number 60.

    Pupils interview prospective teachers? About as much sense as an Ashtray on a Motorbike!!

  • Comment number 61.

    Perhaps, but then again, it would be better to look at the whole teacher selection process....
    a) Only current teachers are interviewed, if you are not a current teacher - even if you are a qualified science teacher with 25 years of ICT experience, experience working with children, experience as a school govenor and a university lecturer - you will NOT get an interview, absolutely NOT.
    b) If you want to get to be a teacher then you have to fill in an application form which is designed for teachers, they allow no space for any other experience. The schools won't take CV's - apparently this is 'child protection' - people may lie on a CV but won't on an application form (glad that such stringent checks are in place aren't you - no one has ever lied on a form have they, especially not perverts - we can see that from the lack of nursery teachers photoing children, teachers in bed with pupils, or recently teachers standing around watching 6 year olds stripping and assaulting a 6 year old girl.
    c) A lot of the recruitment process seems to depend on references - a good teacher will get a good reference, a poor teacher, well, no one can be 'rude' about anyone involved in school so they will also have a good reference. So why bother? (Similar applies to children, teachers aren't allowed to give a bad report).

    150 applications 0 interviews prove the above.

  • Comment number 62.

    Teachers along with university staff and many others in higher education have witnessed attacks on their professional status. This is one more attempt to undermine them. We have seen it in universities with the student assessment protocols, all designed to keep educators in their place. The objective: to demonstrate that educators are just ordinary employees who must dance to the management tune, having no regard for their vocational status and professional commitment.

  • Comment number 63.

    Students should have no say in who is employed as a teacher. What ever next?

  • Comment number 64.

    Children of all ages are 'programed' by Nature and instinct to play power games with their siblings and parents within the 'family'.

    If a parent is weak or inconsistent, that leads to bullying by the child even before school? Every creature on earth whether predator or predated is disciplined by it's parents in order to learn skills for it's survival and ultimate future.

    Human parents have even more responsibility due to the nature of the over-complicated 'civilisations' and 'religions' humans have 'created' striving for perfection and 'happiness'?

    The moral for every parent, school, religion, country and government is that we all fail children if we are not being firm and consistent on boundaries that, deep down, we know is 'right' and best for our children and all our futures?

  • Comment number 65.

    It should be the resonsibility of the personnel sub-committee of the school's board of governors to appoint school staff - not just teachers but teaching assistants, playground supervisors and lunch time assistants. Only they are cogniscent of the requirements of the school, the financial constraints and the need to fit in with the current structure of staff which have to be considered when appointments are made. I have no objection to school councils, where they exist, being introduced to potential candidates, but their views should be treated with caution. However it could be an ideal opportunity for governors to determine a candidate's relation with, and reaction to, their potential charges.

  • Comment number 66.

    If this was April 1st, I'd be suspicious of this story.

    I'm not normally one for running to the union rep at the drop of a hat, but if I was interviewed by a child and asked to sing a song in order to get a job, I think there would be a justified claim for compensation in the pipeline.

    It is the childs job to behave in class and to learn what their teacher teaches them. End of story.

    Our education system is run by fools who don't wait for April 1st to spread their lunacy around.

  • Comment number 67.

    My experience in a sixth form college saw an obsession with the 'voice of the learner' that both alienated the students ("Not ANOTHER questionnaire") and completely ignored any one else's opinions, in particular that of the teaching staff who were being marginalised and 'managed' in a manner that took no account of their professional experience in any decision-making.

    While I would involve students in the teaching process, and welcomed their feedback on which styles and means of presentation worked best for them, this was being taken too far and into asking them to comment on matters that were inappropriate and worse, giving their views more weight than that of professional educators.

  • Comment number 68.

    School is NOT about education.

    School is punishment for being alive on this God awful hell-ball. It's about being brainwashed into a socialist ideal. It's about being brainwashed into accepting low paid smelly Jobs that you wouldn't let a dog do.

    I repeat, school is NOT about education it's punishment and these 'pupils' need to understand that.

    'Lefty student unions'? Get real.

  • Comment number 69.


  • Comment number 70.

    I can't believe how negative most people are about giving children a say in how their schools are run. I am Chair of Gevenors at a small primary school and we let our school council take part in interviews for senior teaching posts. The children know that they do not have the final say but they have a different point of view which we respect. They ask their own questions about what is important to them and then they feed back to the official interview panel. We have been surprised at how insightful the children are about the adults and how prospective staff treat them and also how often their opinions tally with our own.

    The School council also has input into the school improvement plan each year, letting us know what the children would like to see improved around the school, they then report back to their peers, giving them an understanding of the budgetary constraints the school is under and that they cannot have everything that they want, but that they are listened to. Something that does not happen very often in some of their lives.

    Children are not stupid, they are capeable of understanding simple budgetting and management issues. Our children are aware that they do not make the choices, but they are proud to have a say in how their school is run.

  • Comment number 71.

    Those people who think that children are capable of accepting responsibilty should read Golding'd Lord Of The Flies. They simply are not mature enough. Interviewing is a skill to be learned abd practised, not something to be played with. Teachers' careers could be badly affected by this. Good teachers who are unpopular lose out.

  • Comment number 72.

    Students in my school are guided by an experienced adult in their part in the interview process. Children know whether someone's teaching isn't good (just as you did when you were at school) or if they aren't giving positive and empowering messages which inspire and encourage learning (just as you did when you were at school). The children have decided beforehand with the adult what they are looking for and this remains appropriate with the adult's guidance and role in ensuring fairness and equity. There are around ten parts of an interview process, this is just one of those and it is very carefully managed to safeguard against the very concerns that the NASUWT raise. The adult feeds back to the interview panel.
    Children also reflect on their teacher in our school. If you have lots of children saying someone isn't fair or treats people unkindly, that's cause for concern isn't it? Or do we just let children have to endure a year or more with someone that's not very respectful. Parents don't like children to be with unkind or less effective teachers, you'll remember some teachers that were terrible or unkind (or both) from your childhood.
    Teachers work with children, it is their primary role. The National Standards require teachers to be effective. Children know, just as you did, very quickly whether they are the right person for teaching in their school. What are we frightened of - if it is managed carefully! Or, are you still suffering from the 'adults are the only ones with views that count' regime that you were indoctrinated and institutionalised into accepting as a child?

  • Comment number 73.

    First of all sorry about my name, its the 606 name I go by;

    Anyway some of the comments posted on this are ridiculous and are to be honest patronising as a student e.g. insulting our IQ. So we may not have the 'experience' that some members on this claim to have but I believe that it is a good thing if they are done properly because you have got to remember that they are the people who will be teaching us.

    Last year at college I was asked to partake in one of these interviews because of A business unit I took were I had to create a recruitment process e.g. job advertisement, interviews. The interview WAS done in my opinion properly with the interview being planned beforehand by students and this plan being checked by the head of department. We then interviewed the teacher with the HOD and the deputy head being present. They came to their conclusion, we came to ours and we all discussed afterwards with the teachers making the final decision on the interviewee.

  • Comment number 74.

    Peas and rice! Is this another new incentive from an out of touch NuLabour Government?

  • Comment number 75.

    when will we learn, kids need adults to make the decisions, hiring and firing is an adult decision made by the experts. they dont need a say, they dont need to be consulted they want to be getting on being kids. it occurs to me that the adults who come up with these ideas weren't allowed their own childhood and actually have no idea of the disservice we are doing kids to day. we need to return to a clear line, a clear boundary between child and adult.

  • Comment number 76.

    Whoever came up with this ridiculous idea must take a large part of the blame for the power now so freely granted to schoolchildren in their classrooms, and should have his/her head examined.

    No pupil, no matter how clever, possesses enough life experience to make any judgments on a teacher's capability or performance, and those who have sat upon one of these panels ought to be ashamed of themselves for approving such an undignified and degrading spectacle. From what I gathered on the radio this morning, one teacher was asked to sing, and rightly refused to do so. Doubtless, a few other teachers were questioned on other essential teenage issues such as Who Won the X Factor, What Do You Think of the New Dr Who? and What Is Your Favourite Fashion Style?

    I am not ordinarily a lover of Unions, but agree with the stand made here. Including pupils of any age or colour within a selection process is extremely damaging for the teaching profession as a whole. It is the teaching staff who should rule at school, not the pupils. Pupils are there to learn from their elders, and should be put back in their rightful place.

  • Comment number 77.

    This has obviously gone too far (like most things under Labour's odd method of management) but there has to be some way for pupils to have their views heard. When I was at school there were some completely useless teachers. We were stuck with them. However, nobody listened to a word the pupils said bwck then.

  • Comment number 78.

    I think adults need to understand that children are not as stupid as we seem to be (well most aren't anyway). Just because we haven't been through life etc doesn't mean we don't understand it, especially when it concerns school, seeing as school(and our home) is where we have spent most of our life.
    Therefore I think that pupils should have a say in what teachers they get because we have to see them everyday and have to be taught by them. However, I think that pupils interviewing teachers is a bad idea because I know it could easily get out of hand, but I do think that we should be allowed some say in the matter.
    However, I know that whatever we say as pupils, if the head or teachers don't like it, they won't let it happen, which sort of makes the whole 'pupil voice' thing a bit pointless. This happens all the time at my school.
    My main point is that adults should not underestimate the youth; reading some of the comments above makes me angry as I know that most people in my class would be better teachers than the one I have for Chemistry.

  • Comment number 79.

    It is wrong. Students should be exactly that; students, they should accept and respect the teachers that are assigned to teach them. Perhaps students in the UK should spend more time studying and less time wondering about their "rights". Teachers are trained to run schools and to teach, students should be aiming at learning all they can and respecting the teachers that are appointed over them. The blurring of the lines of authority is not good at all.

  • Comment number 80.

    "How much say should students have?"
    They should be able to make suggestions to their teacher about general school matters - that's it. To be involved with interviewee's is demeaning, degrading and insanely PC. We already have behaviour problems in schools - this would make it far worse. No wonder our education system is a laughing stock.

  • Comment number 81.

    I am a secondary Headteacher. We do at least 20 teacher appointments a year. After lots of careful experiments, we have recently decided that we will involve students in all teaching appointments because it has turned out to be an extremely effective means of making good decisions.
    Students do not make the decision about who to appoint - no-one makes such an important decision on his/her own - even me. We look methodically and carefully at a whole range of evidence from the application form and letter, through observation of lesson and interview plus references to decide who is the best candidate. Included in this process, we find student feedback vital, but not the only thing we consider. We have students comment on the teaching we have asked candidates to do and, for more senior posts, we have a student panel which receives a presentation from candidates and can ask its own questions. The students are chosen for their ability to be objective and thoughtful. Their involvement is structured and prepared - they are asked for specific feedback on aspects of the lesson - for example. Students are always guided and supported by a senior professional.
    Given that the centre of any teacher's job is interaction with students it seems entirely reasonable that we would want to explore this with applicants. Observing how a teacher talks with and responds to students is essential in deciding whether to appoint him/her and we find all our students are able to provide thoughtful and extremely perceptive contributions - though we would never allow students to "choose a teacher" any more than we would allow a single adult to simply "choose a teacher".
    I would agree with the NASUWT that great care needs to be taken and professionals treated with real respect, integrity and the highest standards, but I think that involving students carefully increases, not decreases this. I share most of the views of previous comments about the nonsense inflicted on schools by idealistic or ideological groups who have no real experience of or commitment to schools - we have certainly suffered enormously from this under "New Labour", but we have learnt from hard experience that careful, thoughtful and professional appointment processes can benefit from student involvement.
    Incidentally, we are still old fashioned enough to believe that a school is a community of all its members. Adults and students have different roles, skills and responsibilities but we are all in it together - school is not something teachers do to children, but something we make work (or not) together.

  • Comment number 82.

    I would also like to say that I fully agree with no.25

  • Comment number 83.

    The whole idea is well-intentioned but really...Not even teachers are given much of a role in the governing of a school, so why should the pupils have one?

  • Comment number 84.

    Putting children into situations where they can influence which teacher gets hired? What a stupid idea... what's next, putting someone who lied on a mortgage application form and borrowed a huge sum from someone his department was investigating in charge of business in Parliament?

    Oh, wait...

  • Comment number 85.

    For once, the NASUWT is 100% right! There is no place for school pupils have any influence whatsoever on school policy, whether it's timetabling, uniform, curriculum - or indeed staff selection or performance reviews. It give the pupils ideas beyond their station, and is probably a major cause of the loss of defferance in UK society, which is largely responsible for the social mess in which the UK finds itself today.

    As far as school life is concerned children should still be "seen and not heard"!

  • Comment number 86.

    I am currently a PGCE student applying for jobs as an NQT for September 2010. I have had 2 interviews where a student panel was involved. The students were very professional, but found this part of the interview process very daunting, as I felt that if I didn't impress the students I would get the job!

    The Student voice is important in school but it does seem to be taking over. It seems like we have to be politically correct all the time and then it goes to far!

  • Comment number 87.

    I have just heard someone talking about students as customers and something about schools needing to provide a great customer service. I am gobsmacked.

    I am 24, and have signed up here because I want to have my voice heard. It seems however that the things I'd most like to shout about leave me lost for words.

    I do meet some amazing young people, whose attitudes and eloquence leaves me optimistic about where things are going as regards education and young people. However, I also meet alot of young people (and people my age) who are still going through 'that phase'. They frustrate me and remind me of how happy I am not to be a teenager any more. But these times pass and are important stages of development. The last thing some of these kids need though, is to be told that their 'ideas' are so great that schools will take them on and influnece the way teachers work.

    A good teacher is one of the most valuable things in life. They should be respected and rewarded as such.

    I'm trying to express myself but find it hard, and have started to ramble. I hope you get my point. The guy I heard talking on the news just now should not be working in education.

  • Comment number 88.

    Reference Icewombat's comment, ( 3 on 3 April ),I went to school in the 50'& 60's. We were taught professionally and had little say on matters which, at that time in our progression to adulthood, we did not understand. We were there to learn. The quality of teaching was excellent and it was a "true profession". It seems to have worked as I do not, unlike "IceWombat" have 17 grammatical and spelling mistakes in a short message. I'd like the teachers to have more say in who they recruit as pupils and put more emphasis on parents preparing their children for school and taking more interest in their studies. "Education, Education, Education....." ( now that's a good slogan!! ) roll on May 6th.

  • Comment number 89.

    I have a tendency to disagree with the majority of the comments here. I feel if utilised properly the students views should be taken into account - too often I have heard of teachers who can't actually teach / don't do anything during the lessons but sit at desks and read books / leave the students to their own devices which then leads to lack of discipline and lack of respect. Teachers, where their first language is unfortunately not English, teaching a class of children who are unable to understand and leading to the teacher having the "mickey" taken out of them - being less prone to learn - this is not the fault of the teacher.
    On the other side society has wanted children to grow up sooner - taking away their abilities to stay children for longer. We want them to learn quicker - to be adults quicker. We are responsible for how our children are today -no-one is blameless. We don't live in the Victorian times anymore. I say let them be heard - but in an appropriate way - like everyone else.

  • Comment number 90.

    Sample conversation at a job interview:

    Ronald Bloggs (M.Sc. Physics, Oxford): I would like to introduce a syllabus that includes a component on nuclear power so that students can be more informed when debating green power and military issues.

    Interview Panel Member (parent): Isn't that potentially dangerous?

    Head of Pastoral Care: Nuclear physics is a very difficult area to deal with. How would you cope with those who lack the ability to read and do basic mathematics?

    Child Rep.: Wouldn't it bring our grade averages down? We only like easy subjects that can give us good exam grades.

    Ronald Bloggs (M.Sc., Oxon) Oh, s-- the lot of you! I'm off to get a proper job that pays well!

    A child might be no worse than some of the other people who are invited onto these interview panels. Teachers are sick of the fools making inane comments. In a better economic situation, the so-called teaching profession in the state sector would best be left to fools and charlatans.

  • Comment number 91.

    Here we go again, how can we make teachers more and more powerless in schools. When I was at school we had 'student unions', which helped to interface with teachers. However, the head and teachers were always in control and had the final say.

    Let's focus more on what happens in the class room and how well our children are educated. All of this just removes the focus from what should be one of the most important core objectives.

  • Comment number 92.

    The concept of the student voice has moved on considerably since the 1990s and needs serious revision to reflect this century.

    Teachers and lecturers are constantly being manipulated by certain minority of students to the detriment of the education of the whole cohort.

    Students in secondary or high school education generally have suffered years of disruption and bullying of a few in their area since primary school? Perhaps 'school courts' that include disruptive students AND their PARENTS, or similar could be the answer BEFORE they reach secondary education?


  • Comment number 93.

    In my experience, student voice doesn't really work. This is because the student either doesn't take the questions or issues seriously, they don't care or their answers are used selectively to make the school look better.

    Stuff like student councils only buy bins with the money they have and offer the members a skive out of class. Suggestions are noted then ignored.

  • Comment number 94.

    Surely as end users students should have the most say .
    As a patient i expect my needs to be paramount.
    If I ask for a Big Mac i do not want a Mcchicken sandwich.
    As a bank customer i will demand a service level that suits me or i will bank elsewhere.
    Students are the only people who should be considered in the delivery of education.

  • Comment number 95.

    None until they are in the 6th Form and have some academic achievement behind them. That's right - non achievers shouldn't have any say. In the same way non tax payers and non contributors to society shouldn't have the vote. Too much emphasis is given to the voice of the uneducated, socially inactive and useless in this country. The latter will always vote for more benefits and handouts which the economically and socially active have to pay.

  • Comment number 96.

    Children should have some input but they shouldn't be involved with interviewing teachers. Anyone who thinks they should have an influence in recruitment or a greater say in the running of schools, obviously can't remember being a child. Or, as is quite likely, they themselves were 'well to do' children, not the average pupil.
    I enjoyed the majority of my time in school (not so much the lesson time) and I remember clearly what it was like. I achieved above the average in my school, which was considered a good school in my area, but I also remember how my thought process worked and what the vast majority of children in my school were like. We were not mature enough and not objective in understanding what was important to our own education.
    Pupil 'representatives' were never actually representative of the student population, they were usually considered the best pupils. Yet even those children would not have proper experience of being interviewed or genuine understanding of what it involves to be a teacher.
    If feedback is received from pupils about existing teachers it should treated in context. And if teachers, governors and authorities are not sure about the recruitment decisions they make without the input of the children themselves, perhaps they should think about doing something else with their time...?
    And I don't think kids have changed much in the 15 years since I left school.
    I couldn't believe it when I heard on the BBC this morning the national student representative refer to kids as "customers"! I almost choked on my glass of strong cider... I mean cup of tea...

  • Comment number 97.

    Students are there to learn. Teachers run the show.


  • Comment number 98.

    This is as sensible as patients telling surgeons how they should carry out their surgery. It is for adults, with the advantage of experience and their own errors, to advise children on their development. There are good teachers and bad teachers; there are good pupils and bad pupils; one way or another good education will produce enough good results to take us through.

    The idea of pupils advising on staff appointments is democracy gone over the edge of sanity. Why the hell should the taxpayer cover the cost of this nonsense?

  • Comment number 99.

    Pupils picking their teachers???

    The latest piece of PC nonsense.

    Surely this must be the ultimate proof that the loonies are now firmly in charge of the asylum!

  • Comment number 100.

    Why not? They are pandered to and their opinions are sought on practically everything else. Soon they could be running the country.


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