The NASUWT and pupil involvement in teacher appointments

The NASUWT has produced a report that is critical of the involvement of pupils in the selection of teaching staff. This has been widely reported in the Guardian and Independent for example.

The NASUWT's general secretary, Chris Keates is quoted as saying:
Children are not small adults. They are in schools to learn, not to teach or manage the school. Many of the reports from members make distressing and disturbing reading. Many of the practices described are grossly unprofessional on every level. They are stripping teachers of their professional dignity.
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.
What appears to be disturbing to Chris Keates includes asking long standing teachers why they wanted to enter the profession or if they like children.

All these, to me, seem entirely reasonable questions from pupils - who are after all the main stakeholders for schools - to be asking.

BBC News 24 had an interview with a 17 year old pupil who was very articulate and when challenged about the way recruitment decisions are made gave an excellent description about how the decisions should be based on the person specification that many an adult involved in education could do well to listen to.

Sometimes children might ask inappropriate questions or make comments about the physical appearance, gender or other things about the candidates but sadly this is not unheard of amongst adults. This presents a learning opportunity to explain why these kinds of things should not a part of the decision.

A teacher really should be able to cope with a 12 year old girl saying "Never mind — that was a hard question." when he was apparently "left speechless" by a behavior management question. The teacher with the 1st class degree rejected by pupils for not having "substance" might need to work on communicating the knowledge they have as first class subject knowledge is not much use without teaching ability as well.

As for the suggestion that such pupils are being "manipulated" by the schools management, I think Chris Keates shoud reflect that the more likely and less paranoid explanation is that school leaders and pupils want the same things, high quality and engaging teaching that inspires children to learn.

At the end of the day the selection panel of teachers/governors will make the decisions. This kind of feedback is however important and useful but does not take that responsibility away from the panel.

Oh and if children aren't "small adults" what are they? Some schools actually have adults as pupils (if they have a sixth form) and those of us who have worked in Higher Education know that student power has been a major recent factor since students who pay fees see themselves more as consumers of a service. This can be positive and certainly keeps those of us providing a service on our toes and accountable which is just how things should be.
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