Pupil consultations tend to result in requests for a slide in the playground or a better tuck shop but Amanda McKenzie, head at Murroes Primary in Angus, wanted to involve pupils in a more meaningful way.
So in January she got the P7s in her 100-pupil school to think about what made an excellent learner, an excellent teacher and an excellent school, and she gave them a copy of the relevant parts of How Good is Our School? 4 and Building the Curriculum 5 and told them to pull out key words and phrases.
The end result was five quality indicators and groups of three or four P7s going into classes and observing teachers for 45 minutes to an hour. During this time, they also looked at jotters and spoke with pupils.
One teacher was told that she talked too much and needed to give pupils longer to get on with their work; another teacher apparently made the pupils uncomfortable because she told a child to wait to go to the toilet.
Ms McKenzie said: “I have an extremely talented and lovely staff. Otherwise I don’t think we would have been able to do this. It was so insightful for me as a headteacher to see what [the pupils’] take on things was.
“They come to it with fresh eyes and a clear view of things – ours gets cluttered with stuff over the years.”
But boundaries had to be set and pupils were told to consider their feedback carefully so it that did not hurt anyone’s feelings or cause any offence, the headteacher explained.
“I told them that when I was giving feedback I wouldn’t just launch into the things that needed to be fixed, I would also talk about the things that were working well,” said Ms McKenzie.