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Saturday, 3 April 2010

Should pupils be on the interview panel for teachers?

The Teachers' Union, the NASUWT are meeting this weekend in Birmingham for their annual conference.

One of the main concerns of the Union this weekend is the involvement of students or pupils in the running of the school, in fact they are so concerned that they are considering industrial action!

A dossier being discussed at the NASUWT conference suggests steps to improve the student voice within some schools have gone too far and have over 200 cases to prove it.
The paper reveals that schools are using pupils to answer questions about teachers' competence and to help interview them for promotions, which the NASUWT says is completely unacceptable.
NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates told the BBC;
The dossier was "littered with examples of demeaning, embarrassing and humiliating practice".
Many were grossly unprofessional and stripped teachers of their professional dignity, she said.
"To be effective in their roles teachers need to feel confident and empowered to act with authority.
"Involving pupils directly in making judgments about the suitability for posts and competence in the classroom places these considerations in jeopardy."

Ms Keates added: "It is clear that too many schools are engaging not in student voice but in the manipulation of children and young people to serve the interests of school management and its perspective."
So readers, what do you think?  Personally, I think if the sudents have a professional and active student body then they should be involved in the running of the school, to be honest we were back in my day (cough), yes I know that's some time back now.

The student body ran the tuck shop, had input on menus and played a major part on the schools annual Summer and Christmas Fayre's - that was when I got involved.

Would or should I have been involved in interviewing staff, if I had some staff would not have had a job and I certainly would have objected to their selfish calls for strike action and work to rule sessions back in the 1980's affecting many students one to one tuition and then finally affecting their exam results.

However, was I at 15 and 16 really qualified to interview a 25 year old student teacher?

This latest aspect of students being involved in the interviewing of staff is not a new thing, pupils at the George Mitchell school in Leyton, London have been doing this since 2003, read more here.

Personally I have never had a great deal of time for teaching unions given my experiences at Rushcliffe Secondary school in West Bridgford, where year after year the teachers went on strike for one reason or another.  I still believe that the management of unions are out of touch and are often so blinkered to what they they want themselves that they forget why they are in the job in the first place.

So, is this the NASUWT overreacting or is this a much bigger issue?


Caron said...

This is a really interesting post. I know that even at Primary level, kids are being encouraged to voice their opinions on the running of some schools - Anna's being one of them.

I think the key is the culture of the place - are the kids viewed as active participants in the school community or not?

As a liberal, I instinctively think they should be.

As a member of a Parent Council, I've had trainning for interviewing teachers. While we get to be on the panel we don't actually have a huge amount of influence in the end of the day, although we can give our opinions.

I have no objection in principle to a member of a student body, wit the same training, being involved and consulted on teacher recruitment.

The unions may not like it, but, hey, if they're supposed to be teaching a curriculum which encourages people to be responsible citizen, why not start that process within the school community?

Richard T said...

As a former Local Authority head of HR, the question turns on the accountability of members of the interview panel. For example if an allegation of discrimination arises, can you hold a parent or student accountable for the choice they've made? My view was that as they were not employees of the Council you could not and therefore, whilst their opinion is valuable and helpful they cannot formally make the decision to appoint a teacher.

Asher said...

You're right Richard, and that's exactly how it works in schools. Students sit on a panel whose opinion is listened to by the main interview panel, but it is just an opinion, not a formal part of the decision. The panel can use it or disregard it.
Almost all of the coverage of this issue is very misleading about this and suggests that students actually have a/the final say.
Caron, you're right students need similar training to your parent council.

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