'Teachers don't take us seriously,' pupils say

13th September 2016 at 00:01
pupils, teachers, opinions, exams, listening, pupil voice
Fewer than half of students think their views are listened to but nine in 10 teachers disagree, a new study finds

A survey of 407 12- and 13-year-olds and 215 teachers at schools in Wales has revealed that only 42 per cent of the pupils believe their views are listened to and taken seriously by school staff.

By contrast, 90 per cent of teachers said that they took students’ opinions seriously.

The study was carried out by Kevin Smith, senior lecturer in education at Cardiff University. Presenting his work at the annual British Educational Research Association conference in Leeds today, he will demonstrate that there is a large divide between the way that pupils and teachers view what goes on in the classroom.

Appropriate educational goals

Only 43 per cent of pupils agreed that their school set educational goals appropriate for each student. By contrast, 92 per cent of teachers believed this to be true.

When asked whether school staff had high expectations of them, 59 per cent of pupils said that they did. Meanwhile, 95 per cent of teachers insisted that this was true.

Dr Smith returned to the same pupils two years later, and asked them again whether they felt that their views were listened to and taken seriously by staff. This time, the proportion responding in the affirmative was even lower: only 37 per cent.

'Doing their best'

But Dr Smith believes that this gulf between staff and pupils’ views may not be the teachers' fault. "The vast majority of teachers felt they were doing their best to meet pupils’ needs," he said. "However, they felt their teaching was undermined by too many changes in education policy in too little time."

He added that the pressure of high-stakes exams meant that teachers had little time to see their pupils as anything other than future exam statistics.

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