Pupils aren't like robots

20th January 2012 at 00:00

Michael Gove's baseline for judging teachers is that all pupils should show improvement each and every term. It's difficult to construct an argument against this without appearing to support poor standards. Yet, as any teacher will tell you, children are not smooth-running machines. Their development and improvement is subject to so many variables that to judge purely on absolute progress term by term will result in no teacher ever being judged "good" or "outstanding". Given that the phenomenon of pupil regression as they move from primary to secondary is well documented, does Mr Gove suggest that all Year 7 teachers should be placed on competency or capability proceedings if pupils do not improve during their first term in secondary school?

James D. Williams, Lead science tutor and lecturer in science education at the University of Sussex's School of Education and Social Work.

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