Making the classroom more pupil-friendly

6th October 1995 at 01:00
The research points to six principles that make a significant difference to pupils' learning

* Respect for pupils as individuals and as a body occupying a significant position in the institution of the school

* Fairness to all pupils irrespective of their class, gender, ethnicity, or academic status

* Autonomy as both a right and a responsibility in relation to physical and social maturity

* Intellectual challenge that helps pupils to experience learning as a dynamic, engaging and empowering activity

* Social support in relation to both academic and emotional concerns

* Security in relation to both the physical setting of the school and in interpersonal encounters (including anxiety about threats to pupils' self-esteem).

Schools can act on these by

* Teachers being available to talk with pupils about learning and schoolwork (and not just about behaviour) * Teachers recognising pupils' readiness to take more responsibility as they grow older and engaging with them in as adult a way as possible

* Teachers being sensitive to the tone and manner of their discourse with pupils, as individual and in groups, so that they do not humiliate them, criticise them in ways that make them feel small (especially in front of their peers) or shout at them

* Teachers being seen to be fair in all their dealings with all pupils and realising that one important aspect of fairness is not prejudging pupils on the basis of past incidents (pupils need to know that they are not constrained by teachers' expectations of their future behaviour based on past incidents).

* Teachers ensuring that they make all pupils feel confident that they can do well and achieve something worthwhile.

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