Voice of pupils

21st November 2008 at 00:00

Teachers' leaders John Dunford and Chris Keates are right to be concerned about the range of formal duties placed on schools on matters such as community cohesion, pupil wellbeing and student voice ("Pupil voice to become law", TES, November 14).

Even so, it is vital to see the prominence of these issues on the policy agenda as a chance for schools to gain acknowledgement for work that many of them already do well, rather than as a threat or burden.

The data is increasingly clear: those "citizenship-rich" schools that involve and encourage students and the community in their decision-making reap a tangible dividend that is reflected in enhanced exam attainment and reduced exclusions. Inclusive schools are achieving schools.

It is perhaps a shame - and a bigger error by policymakers - that the only way these important objectives can gain sufficient attention from governors, heads and teachers is when they are re-framed within the "test it and inspect it" culture.

If we are going to continue to give tables, targets and duties the prominence in our educational culture that we have done for the past two decades, the least we should do is ensure that these measures reflect the broader life of the school, rather than simply academic performance.

Dr Tony Breslin, Chief executive, Citizenship Foundation, London.

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