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To think the school are inciting disrespect with this approach

(92 Posts)
yellowsound Thu 15-Jan-15 22:01:18

Dd is in year 9. School conducted 'pupil voice' today - where senior teachers ask pupils what they think of the school. It seems to be a 'big' thing lately, however, this time was different from before. She was asked the question 'do you have any complaints about any of your teachers?'. Sounds almost like they are encouraging students to look for complaints where there are none?!

Dd tells me that she felt very uncomfortable, but said she had no problems. However, she tells me that there has been a lot of talk about it among her peers, with people excitedly exchanging stories about who they complained about. In dd's opinion, a lot of these pupils are the source of problems themselves if anything.

Our experience of her school is that it is pretty good. Of course there are some teachers she rates more highly than others, and one in particular who seems to have a lot of behaviour problems, but surely this kind of approach will only make that worse, not help? Dd's main problem is she gets fed-up with the noise levels in some classes and, in her words, this was worse than usual today, with the excitement of who had complained about who.

Teachers - is this normal in schools now? If so, you have my sympathies more than usual today!

SaucyJack Thu 15-Jan-15 22:03:18

I don't get the joke?

heygoldfish Thu 15-Jan-15 22:04:19

Gosh - I don't like that either.

How horrible for any teacher mentioned.

hiddenhome Thu 15-Jan-15 22:04:58

They need to know what's going on from the pupils point of view though.

Ds1 has two rubbishy teachers currently who are ruining the subject and not teaching it very well. The whole class know this is going on and everyone suffers.

WorraLiberty Thu 15-Jan-15 22:10:15

I'm not a teacher but I am a chair of governors at a large primary school.

This is the latest 'thing' from OFSTED called 'feedback from stakeholders'.

In many schools children are encouraged to use a suggestion box (as are parents). The contents are then looked at by the SLT and governing bodies and a monthly 'You said - we did' letter is sent out, detailing what action (if any) was taken. If no action was taken then there will be an explanation as to why.

Also, children are encouraged to go to the school council with their 'pupil voice'.

But if your DD's school has decided to take the bull by the horns then good luck to them grin

I'm not sure about inciting disrespect though and I'm sure the 'excitement' will die down once they get used to it.

fairylightsbackintheloft Thu 15-Jan-15 22:10:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BlinkAndMiss Thu 15-Jan-15 22:11:32

Yep, normal in schools today. Ofsted are very interested in how students perceive teachers and the quality of their teaching. So, forget that most students are fickle when it comes to their 'best' and 'worst' students and take their word for it. If a student says a teacher is rubbish and boring then it has to be true.

Student voice, whilst very important and informative, is not always the most reliable source. But this doesn't seem to be recognised.

GokTwo Thu 15-Jan-15 22:12:01

It depends how it's done I guess. I regularly ask my much younger children what they like or dislike about my lessons. I find it really helpful. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable with someone else doing it for me though.

Otoh Dd is now at high school and says some teachers have massive problems with discipline to the extent that 5 or 6 children are sent out in a lesson. She's quiet and eager to learn and this is really bothering her. I think she would welcome the chance to talk to someone about it.

Frusso Thu 15-Jan-15 22:12:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Quitethewoodsman Thu 15-Jan-15 22:16:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

fredfredgeorgejnr Thu 15-Jan-15 22:19:58

So your DD does have complaints about her teachers (failing to control the noise levels such that she can concentrate at least) yet she thinks it's wrong to be asked about them? Why did she not raise them?

Asking for feedback from everyone involved is generally helpful, and if the management team really can't recognise or understand fickleness in students then it doesn't say much for them. 360 appraisals (which this is essentially) often work very well, but like all appraisals the views of individuals are not definitive but part of a picture.

When I was 14 I certainly knew enough to give feedback on teachers, it would've been nice to have been asked, YABU.

GokTwo Thu 15-Jan-15 22:20:09

I should add, I support the school council at my school where the staff are brought up in a very respectful way most weeks, mostly in a positive way by the children.

Agree that if you do this regularly and do it in a culture of mutual respect, making it very clear that you are seeking sensible, polite feedback the vast majority of children are straightforward and genuine with their contributions.

heygoldfish Thu 15-Jan-15 22:22:47

I think there is a huge difference between general comments such as 'we enjoy learning in geography because the teacher uses clips and pictures to help us understand' and 'Mr. Jones can't control us and is rubbish.'

The former is useful and above all respectful. The latter has it's place but in a polite discussion with a parent ideally but if not a head of department.

ilovesooty Thu 15-Jan-15 22:26:32

I think asking for comments or feedback is fair enough.

Asking specifically for complaints is negative and inflammatory.

Weren't they interested in positive feedback?

ilovesooty Thu 15-Jan-15 22:28:19

And specific concerns about the performance of individual teachers should be raised by parents through the appropriate channels.

heygoldfish Thu 15-Jan-15 22:28:48

Exactly, ilovesooty

I could, at a push, swallow 'what could your teachers do to help you learn more in your lessons' but asking for specific complaints is simply not on.

My DD is incredibly loyal to her teachers and getting her to say a word against them would be like getting blood out of a stone, mind you. They have all been wonderful though! Talented teachers and lovely people.

ilovesooty Thu 15-Jan-15 22:31:51

heygoldfish that's a much better way of phrasing it.

greenbananas Thu 15-Jan-15 22:43:16

I will go against the grain and say that asking for complaints is fair enough. Teachers aren't stupid, head teachers aren't stupid, and ofsted inspectors mostly know what they need to be looking for.

Some children might not voice complaints unless they are asked specifically to say what they don't like (most children look for "right answers" when they are in school, so if they are not authorised to be negative if necessary, they will say what they think their teachers want to hear).

The experienced professionals reading the children's responses will be able to discount "silly" answers, and focus on any recurring themes. Good teachers should take this as useful feedback, however hard it is to swallow.

Of course, the emphasis should be on improving the quality of teaching, learning and general happiness in school. This does need to be well thought out and well handled, and not become an excuse for bullying teachers.

My experience is that if you explain to children that their views are important, and ask them to say what is both good and bad about teaching / play provision / local services etc., then even very young children are capable of giving well thought out and useful feedback.

ravenAK Thu 15-Jan-15 22:43:59

Actually, all the main teaching unions have been quite explicit on how 'pupil voice' should be used - & the question you quote would be a huge no no.

Not normal procedure.

bloodyteenagers Thu 15-Jan-15 22:45:10

We do a survey. It's an online thing. We ask for the positive and negative as well as a anything else box.
It's also open to parents/carers because we realise that sometimes students open up more at home.
Feedback is then used through the year to make any necessary adjustments and we always refer to previous years.
parents enjoy it and feel more involved because they feel that the interests of their children are valued.

Prior to the online, it was paper and took longer to gather the info.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 15-Jan-15 22:49:57

The problem with this kind of nonsense is that teachers can fudge the results. This is how you do it with happy sheets at training/university. I could tell them a few very easy tricks to being liked by their 'stakeholders'. This is absolutely not the same as being an effective and inspiring teacher.

Children will generally complain about boring/insecure teachers. They won't necessarily complain about ineffective but funny and charismatic teachers. As long as this kind of feedback is taken along with results, peer assessments, supervision and other measures, it's a nice thing to do. Very imprecise but nice.

bloodyteenagers Thu 15-Jan-15 22:50:06

And no slt, governors and ofsted are not stupid. They know the real from the agendas.
Although the negatives are there, we can say roughly how many are warranted and how many are from someone having an agenda. We know this because of the close partnership we have with families.

greenbananas Thu 15-Jan-15 22:54:57

I think a 12 year old who sits in lessons with the same teacher every week is much better placed to judge the quality of teaching than an ofsted inspector who sees only a snapshot. Children know whether or not they are learning, and how pleasant and safe the classroom environment feels. I think it's great that children are being asked for their views. Ofsted want to know that children are being asked, because this is a good indicator of whether or not a school is child- centred.

wanderingcloud Thu 15-Jan-15 23:06:15

A long while ago my newly appointed HOD decided when he took over that our dept should do a student voice survey every term. So we all duly spent 10 mins of our lessons with every students getting them to complete the forms. When he got the results back from his classes, some students had criticised him and his teaching (and been pretty rude and disrespectful)... it never got mentioned again and was never repeated. hmm

As a PP poster said, it always seems a tad pointless to me as the quality of feedback from the majority is pretty poor and actually not indicative of quality teaching. I don't think many students are especially good at recognising how and when they learn effectively. I think that changing that requires a good deal of work with them on metacognition and reflectiveness that they don't always get.

MrsTerryPratchett Thu 15-Jan-15 23:07:00

Children know whether or not they are learning, and how pleasant and safe the classroom environment feels. Actually people in general, not particularly children, are pretty bad at judging how well they are learning. They absolutely can tell you if they feel safe.

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