Pupils to give views on the performance of their teachers

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The Independent Online

Schools inspectors opened the door to every pupil's dream yesterday when Ofsted, the Government's education standards watchdog, gave the go ahead for pupils to give their own views about their teacher's performance during school inspections.

Schools inspectors opened the door to every pupil's dream yesterday.

Ofsted, the Government's education standards watchdog, gave the go ahead for pupils to give their own views about their teacher's performance during school inspections.

However, teachers' leaders warned last night it would give pupils who had been ticked off or disciplined the chance to get their own back on staff.

As a result of the decision, a pilot questionnaire will be sent to selected secondary schools to elicit the views of 11 to 16-year-olds this summer before the scheme is extended nationwide in September, 2003.

The proposal, which has provoked an outcry from teachers' unions, was first floated in a review of school inspections last summer.

Yesterday Ofsted announced it had been supported by just over half of the 9,000 people – including parents, heads and teachers themselves – who responded to the review.

They said they wanted the questionnaire to include questions about teaching quality and the delivery and content of the curriculum, including exams. Now a working group has been set up to devise the exact questions that will be asked of pupils – and parents – during school inspections.

Mike Tomlinson, chief schools inspector, said : "I wanted inspection to be more responsive to circumstances, more supportive of school improvement, better informed about the views of pupils, parents and the local community."

However, Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, warned: "This will be destabilising for the teacher and a licence for the troublemakers to say what they like. If they were university students, they might be mature enough to make their own judgements but not at the age of eleven."

Other moves approved by Ofsted include carrying out inspections of effective schools once every six years instead of four as at present. Those who have failed inspections or been declared to have "serious weaknesses" will be inspected every other year.

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