Pupil Power – an iPhone for your thoughts?

Being Easter weekend, essentially a couple a ‘no news’ days combined with the annual bout of Teachers’ Union Conferences, the time was ripe for some sensational media misrepresentation of the way things are in our schools.

On Saturday led by the Daily Ma… no, actually it was the completely unbiased BBC TV, came the main story at the top of the hour that led us to believe all teachers were now ‘feeling humiliated’ when appointed to new jobs after being interviewed and selected by students on the basis of how well they could sing or whether or not they looked like Humpty Dumpty. To be fair, the BBC did follow the headline up with a more balanced report and a live interview (unfortunately not included in the clip below) in which the conference speaker concerned went on to agree that it was essentially an issue to do with poor senior management in the small number of schools concerned.


Then predictably on Monday the story was taken up by the Daily Mail front page headline screaming:

An iPhone to spy on teacher: Pupils told to email secret verdicts on staff DURING lessons.

(So if it had been AFTER lessons, that would have been OK then?)
and it was also reported on the BBC website

Well first of course it’s a refreshing change to hear of a school actually encouraging pupils to use hand-held technologies rather than banning them. And what’s even more incredible is that it was a Kent school!

Meanwhile the item in the Mail details the sort of questions asked by pupils which, with perhaps a few exceptions, could well have produced some interesting and revealing answers.

I think all prospective D&T teachers should definitely be asked ‘What font would you be?’, particularly as most of them don’t even know what a font is. If creative questions like this can be accepted as good ways of selecting Oxbridge candidates, why can’t they be posed to prospective teachers as well? Most of the questions reveal that the students are indeed well very aware that they potentially respond best to teachers who are well-turned out, in-tune with their own interests, have a sense of humour, are in some way talented, and are able to make a subject interesting.

In any other situation a company or organisation is keen to obtain customer or client feedback in order to understand what is needed and how to improve the goods or services it is offering. It seems however that this does not apply to children who are, of course, supposedly quite incapable of recognising a good teacher from a poor one.

There is a need for the process of pupil involvement to be sensibly and properly managed ‘from above’, but it would be a shame if these sorts of headlines detract from the very positive benefits of involving students in making an input into the nature and quality of their own education. And also a pity if, as a further result, pupils continue to be banned from using iPhones and other hand-held learning technologies in their lessons.

It’s a pity that the BBC and Daily Mail did not direct their audiences to this 10 minute TED presentation called ‘What adults can learn from kids’.


And finally… if, like me, you had not heard of ‘Student Voice’ before, you might want to go to: http://www.studentvoice.co.uk/

Oh – and by the way, I’m feeling rather ‘Avant Garde’ at present – what font are you today?

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