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Young 'customers' will rate teachers

TEACHERS will be judged by their pupils, under new government proposals to consult children more.

Officials will be asking them what makes a good teacher and head.

A chosen few young people could also be called on to advise ministers while others will help appoint careers advisers. The Department for Education and Skills believes children are "key customers" and it must respond to their concerns.

It said individual teachers would not be judged by children, but unions - already worried by moves to gather pupils' views during inspections - want reassurance that pupils' verdicts will not feed into official assessment of performance.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers, said children's views were vital but teachers should not feel "threatened" by any exercise to collect them. He said: "If you attach a high-stakes outcome to what pupils say, teachers are not going to embrace it."

The proposal comes in a DFES action plan to consult children more. It recommends:

* statutory guidance for schools and education authorities on consulting young people;

* developing training for youngsters so they can help select Connexions careers advisers;

* setting up focus groups of young people from ethnic groups at risk of underachieving; and

* a survey of pupil attitudes in challenging schools.

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said the proposals took consultation "to extreme limits".

But voluntary groups and governor representatives were more positive. Jane Phillips, chairwoman of the National Association of Governors and Managers, said, with proper safeguards, gauging pupils' views could improve decision-making. Some schools already involved pupils in staff appointments, said Chris Gale, chairwoman of the National Governors'


See for copies of departmental action plan

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