'Insidious' bullying needs to be better understood by teachers, says survey

30th September 2011 at 01:00
Children's Parliament poll finds that impact of good teaching and planning is undermined by the problem

A survey of children, commissioned as part of the McCormac review, has warned teachers they need to understand the "insidious" problem of bullying better and address it more effectively.

A sample poll of primary and secondary pupils by the Children's Parliament found they enjoy cross- curricular projects and contact with non-teachers in the classroom.

The youngsters want their teachers "to love to teach" and to care about them - and they want to know their headteacher better, the report found.

But its toughest message was on bullying: "No matter how the learning environment is organised and learning is facilitated, if the learner's personal safety, self-confidence and readiness for learning is impacted upon by bullying, the best of intentions to facilitate a flexible, creative, learner-centred experience is undermined; this insidious problem must be understood and addressed by the teaching profession."

The report also uncovered that primary pupils' understanding of the four capacities in Curriculum for Excellence was limited to quoting what they were. When questioned further, the children displayed a limited grasp of what the capacities really meant.

One P7 girl, asked what CfE was, responded: "Oh, boring! It's on all the walls at school and you get awards for it, but I don't know what it means."

Some secondary pupils said they understood the new curriculum was intended to change the ways young people learn in school, but were unsure how it would affect them.

One S4 girl said: "Some classes have this `success criteria' and `target sheets' thing at the start of lessons, but I don't pay much attention - it's just something we are told to do.

"I don't think all the teachers are that keen on it, so some of them drop it from the beginning of the class," she added.

Analysis of the children's views of what the four capacities meant raised a general issue with CfE adjectives.

"For children and young people successful, confident, responsible or effective mean `good'. Some participants stated explicitly that CfE is only about the `successful' pupil and those who fall short fail," said the report.

Pupils wanted to have more outside learning and enjoyed cross-curricular projects, group work and creative approaches from teachers. But they reported that "too much learning takes place on your own, working from exercise sheets".

PUPILS' VOICES

"It's wrong that the teachers' focus is about getting the majority through exams - that they just want passes - rather than focusing on me as an individual." Boy, S3

"Some teachers give you the impression they are only doing what they get paid for - they don't go beyond their contract." Boy, S3

"Shouting doesn't help me learn." Girl, P7

"A good teacher speaks to us quietly, listens to our ideas and doesn't butt in when we are talking. And they don't get hung up on the small stuff, like using a pencil when they want us to use a pen." Girl, S1

elizabeth.buie@tess.co.uk.

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