Teachers learn the score from students
From left: Edge Learner Forum’s Huda Al Banda with South Camden pupils Khadija Khatun, Sinead McLoughlin, Rukshana Begum, Xafsa Mohamud, Saffiyah Marhoon and Fatumo Nageye. The pupils gave presentations on what would be a successful inspection
‘Edge’ review aims for clearer picture of successes and weaknesses than Ofsted inspections
A TEAM of education experts have gone into a Somers Town secondary school to train students to review their teachers in a unique pilot scheme.
In a nationwide first, pupils at South Camden Community School hosted workshops where they discussed problems in classrooms with their teachers.
A Big Brother-style diary room was set up for the teenage inspectors to report their findings.
Pupils at the Charrington Road school also carried out more traditional classroom visits during the week-long review.
Teachers volunteered themselves for the “inspection” which took place two weeks ago.
The review was created by education foundation Edge to take the pressure off schools when they are being inspected and capture a clearer picture of their successes and weaknesses than Ofsted inspections.
Rosemary Leeke, headteacher of South Camden, described the experience as “empowering” for students. She said: “Obviously something like Ofsted will always happen and I don’t have a problem with that, but this empowers everyone.”
While she acknowledged that student-led reviews could create some anxiety among teachers, Ms Leeke said it had been welcomed by staff at her school, many of whom had volunteered to take part.
“It would be naïve to assume people would welcome it without knowing what its limits would be,” she said.
“But all the way through we’ve involved staff and given them the opportunity to raise concerns. The true test was that people were happy to take part.”
While members of the teachers’ union have warned that student-led reviews of teachers can damage the respect balance between the two groups, they said it appeared to have been a success at South Camden.
Andrew Baisley, from Camden’s branch of the NUT, said some staff at the school who had been uneasy about the inspection were pleasantly surprised.
He added: “If they’re happy, I’m happy.”
Students said the review would help build bridges.
Khadija Khatun, 13, from Somers Town, said: “We can give teachers good ideas in positive ways so they don’t feel they’re getting bossed around by little kids.”
Saffiyah Marhoon, 14, said the authority of Ofsted deserved to be challenged. “Ofsted is a review of the school from an adults’ point of view.
“The review is from students’ point of view. We know what the school is like and we can actually make a difference,” she said.
The review would also give students a chance to overhaul the way detentions are conducted, said Saffiyah, from Kilburn. “People don’t take detention seriously,” she warned, before suggesting that students needed more discipline to work harder and improve learning for all.
“If they have friends in there they just mess about,” she said.
“Instead of just having detentions where people have nothing to do we should do lines or homework.”
Rose Dowling, an Edge representative, said the inspection was designed to bring teachers and pupils closer together.
“It is about pupils understanding more about the difficulties of being a teacher and the constraints on them,” she said. “This will get them sitting down with teachers and seeing what improvements are possible.”