The ex-student went to a talk by Claire Fox who was pretty patronising about students and pretty negative in her opinions about student voice.
This got me thinking. I am nervous about student voice in some respect. I think that it is because I worry that a personality clash between myself and a student may end up in reflecting very negatively on me. I really don't like the idea of things like ratemyteacher, where an anonymous student can make an opinion on me for the whole world to see.
However, the opinion of the students in my classroom is important to me. I do ask them what support they need and try (sometimes not successfully) to support a student in the way they want. I know better than them, I have more experience than them, but I am willing to learn from them. They see more lesson than I do. Most importantly an unhappy class group is not going to be easy to teach.
I also support student leadership in schools. I think that it is useful to have students who want to aim to be prefects (or prefect equivalents) and represent what is best about their school. Do we expect them to do that role without contributing back into the running of the school and having an opinion?
What I don't like is contrived student councils. Groups of students discussing toilets. Having to think of something during tutor time that the rep can bring up. Always these topics having to be negative. Often the representative from the tutor group being coerced by the tutor.
And I definitely don't like student observers. I think it is totally unfair. I do not think that the joint adult observer should be able to use the opinion of the student against you. I have 25-30 observers in my room already, ask them for an opinion if you need one.
Learning should not only be about the adult knowing it all and the student being bored, but putting up with it as the teacher imparts knowledge . I believe that learning is a partnership between students and teachers and supporting student in understanding their education and asking them about their experience is an important thing. Don't get me wrong I don't think that students should have it all (or even mostly) their own way, but they can't be ignored either.
In my opinion system we have is not ready to deliver effective student voice, that is not intimidating to individual teachers, and as a starting point we need more than a tick box student council approach.
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Location:South West, UK