Senior pupils in Aberdeen want a say in removing incompetent teachers and have won unexpected backing from the city's director of education and the Scottish Office's chief inspector of schools.
The first meeting of the council's pupil forum said schools should allow them to express opinions and make complaints confidentially about teachers. The 32 pupils met in parallel to the national conference on quality assurance and school self-evaluation (page five).
John Stodter, Aberdeen's director of education, told the conference: "Pupils always know who are the good and bad teachers. They are better judges of teachers than exam results." Mr Stodter said all schools should incorporate ways of consulting with pupils in their self-evaluation procedures.
Archie McGlynn, head of HMI's audit unit, lent his support. "Pupils are major stakeholders and what is wrong with asking them about how they feel about what is going on in their school? Pupils at all ages can have something very important to say about schools and I see more schools embarking on this. If you are asking how good is our school, you need to consult the major stakeholders, " Mr McGlynn said.
Apart from high standards of classroom teaching, the pupils say other features of good schools are relationships, the extent of extracurricular activities and external communications with parents, businesses and other schools.
But Ronnie Smith, the Educational Institute of Scotland's general secretary, cautioned: "I hope we have not reached the stage where it amounts to a popularity poll among pupils to judge whether teachers are professionally competent."
Mr Smith added: "I cannot accept the view that pupils can be the sole or necessarily the best arbiter of professional competence, any more than you can accept the view that a patient is the best judge of a medical practitioner or a client of a lawyer, although they have something to say that needs to be taken into account."