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How do I rate my lesson?

Exclusive: Half of teachers are happy for children to have a say on learning policies and how they are taught

Many teachers are happy to have their lessons rated by pupils, an exclusive TES survey reveals.

Almost half of the 2,000 teachers who took part in the survey think it is a good idea for pupils to rate their teaching. And three-quarters favour involving pupils in drawing up teaching and learning policies.

The survey's finding will come as a relief to ministers as they face international censure in a report which says the Government is not doing enough to promote pupil voice in schools.

Sarah Creasey has had lessons observed by specially trained pupils while working as an English teacher at Preston Manor High School inWembley, north London. She said the process helped her to discover that she was not giving pupils enough time to answer questions.

"It is helpful to get the student's perspective," said Ms Creasey. "It opens up a dialogue and also makes them appreciate how difficult your job is. It creates a partnership."

Just under half - 47 per cent - of teachers polled were in favour of their lessons being rated, while 40 per cent disagreed.

Teaching unions are divided over the issue. The NASUWT will condemn the practice at its annual conference this Easter. Pupil evaluation of teachers' lessons is an attack on their professional status, according to the national executive.

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary, said: "We have had teachers who have overheard pupils saying, `I have observed that teacher and he is not very good'. That disempowers the teacher."

But the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said that pupil feedback, if handled properly, could help teachers.

Websites which allow pupils to critique teachers anonymously, such as RateMyTeachers, are highly unpopular with school staff.

The survey comes as The TES learnt that ministers face criticism in a report by the United Nations' children's agency Unicef for only having a "very superficial grasp" of the child's right, under international law, to have their opinions taken into account.

"There is far more to children having a voice than being told they can participatehave a sayhave a school council," says the report.

In 2002, the UN called on ministers to do more to promote meaningful pupil participation in schools. It condemned their record in fulfilling their obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Government has since introduced a legal requirement on governors to consult pupils when drawing up behaviour policies. Last year its research found that 95 per cent of schools had pupil councils. But only 12 per cent give pupils a say in learning and teaching.

Respect revolution, Magazine, pages 8-10.

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