School bans pupils from raising hands in class

Teachers and parents have criticised the decision for being 'gimmicky' and a 'step backwards'

Rachael Pells
Education Correspondent
Thursday 01 December 2016 11:31
Samworth Church Academy Principal, Barry Found, said raising hands in class did not 'challenge and support the learning of all'
Samworth Church Academy Principal, Barry Found, said raising hands in class did not 'challenge and support the learning of all'

A school in Nottinghamshire has come under fire for banning students from raising their hands in class.

Leaders at the Samworth Church Academy in Mansfield claim the traditional method of answering teachers’ questions is outdated and fails to challenge pupils effectively.

This is despite the school’s own logo showing two children with their hands raised in the air.

In a letter to parents, Samworth principal, Barry Found, said: “We have taken the decision at the academy to dispense with the age old 'hands up to answer a question' practice."

“We find that the same hands are going up and as such the teaching does not challenge and support the learning of all.”

The letter continued: “From Monday November 28, hands will only be raised in the academy to establish silence for listening (the students are very used to this practice and are brilliant at it.)

Ironically, Samworth Church Academy's logo details two figures with their hands raised

“We will use a variety of other techniques to ensure that every student is challenged and developed in class through our questioning and that every student has opportunities to contribute and participate.”

The controversial decision has received backlash from teachers and parents, and has been condemned by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

In an online post, one parent said: “My son told me about this last week and he is disappointed about it as he fears being chosen randomly if he doesn't know the answer but equally won't get the opportunity to raise his hand when he does know the answer.

Another added: “Surely a teacher can ask other children to answer without the need to 'ban' putting up of hands? Some kids don't want to be put on the spot, and it's ok to be quiet or shy.

“It's going to be awful for kids who are naturally anxious if they spend all their classes scared they will be picked, and if they don't know the answer they might be ridiculed by other kids.

NUT spokesperson Jane Crich said the move was “strange”, and insisted it should be the teacher’s choice as to whether or not they adopt the rule within the classroom.

She said: “Any professional teacher should be trusted to teach a particular topic in a particular style according to the class they have.

“Teachers are never backwards in discussing new educational techniques but banning one from the classroom is strange.

Ms Crich added: “I don't know if there was a discussion before the decision was made but it shows a lack of respect to the teachers at the school.”

Michael McKeever, a former headteacher of nearby Trinity School in Aspley, Nottingham, told The Times the decision was a "step backwards".

He said: "It is totally unnecessary because a good teacher wouldn't go back to the same person, you make sure everyone in the classroom is engaged.

"This is an issue of teacher professionalism, not a rule change. It's a bit gimmicky in my opinion.

"Putting your hand up is showing enthusiasm, if you're suppressing that then it's not good.

"If the reason is that the same children are always putting their hand up then the issue is the teacher and their methods."

A spokesperson for Samworth Church Academy told The Independent the school would not be commenting further on the matter.

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