Here to listen

29th June 2001 at 01:00
Angela Riviere, head of humanities at Kidbrooke, went on the first training session in reflective listening and is now responsible for liaising with the School Counselling Trust. "We were fighting to get on the course," she says, "particularly year heads and people with clear pastoral responsibilities. Kidbrooke can be a difficult school, and very often as a classroom teacher the one thing you hear is that 'they didn't listen to me'.

"Many of the students have never been listened to in their lives. They don't know how to be listened to. But nine times out of 10, while you're listening to them, students realise for themselves that what they have done is unacceptable. It's much better than us saying 'you've done this'. It's been empowering for some students."

Angela Riviere also believes that the machismo of teaching - refusing to admit to any difficulties with a class for fear of being considered inadequate - has been reduced. "People used to say 'oh I don't have a problem with that group'," she says. "Now you can speak up, without feeling you're being judged." Teachers now say to each other, 'will you listen to me?' It's not like a normal conversation. It's dumping the day."

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