Brit Govt To Brand Schools Based On Pupil Happiness: Teachers Call It 'Absurd'

by Tanya Thomas on  March 25, 2009 at 9:59 AM Education News
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Brit Govt To Brand Schools Based On Pupil Happiness: Teachers Call It 'Absurd'
The British government's recent proposal to grade its schools based on "pupil happiness" has been slammed by several Head teachers for its sheer meaninglessness and absurdity.

The Government's proposals have been seen as being too bureaucratic, and also leading to schools in deprived areas being "castigated".

As per the plans, schools will be rated on a range of measures, including the take-up of lunches in canteens, the proportion of pupils doing two hours of sport a week, the quality of sex education lessons, and relationship advice.

Schools will also be measured on truancy, exclusions, and the ability to promote "emotional resilience" in their pupils.

The so-called well-being indicators could also be used in a "report card" system being proposed by the Government as a new way of ranking schools.

But the "happiness" measures are being opposed by teachers' leaders, who claim they are almost impossible to quantify.

In response to an official Government consultation on the plan, the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents more than 14,000 secondary heads and deputies, said that they were creating "widespread anxiety" in schools.

The use of school lunches as a proxy for pupil well-being was "absurd", claimed the association, while exclusion rates said little about whether pupils were happy.

Officials also warned that schools in the poorest areas would suffer because they admitted large numbers of problematic pupils.

The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents primary heads, said that the plans were "fundamentally flawed".

The National Union of Teachers said that the proposals would "simply reduce schools' work in this area to a checklist of Ofsted indicators."

"We are disappointed that the Government is spending time and money developing indicators which will indicate nothing of any substance," the Telegraph quoted another union, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, as saying.

But Phil Revell, chief executive of the National Governors' Association, has said that the plans are not enough.

"The aim behind what the Government is trying to do - that schools should be reporting to parents on the basis of more holistic indicators than simply pupils' exam performance - is right. But the current set of measures are not good enough," he said.

The comments come days after Carol Craig, chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing in Glasgow, said that teachers' drive to build their pupils' self-esteem had gone too far, with many parents unwilling to have their children criticised for fear it might damage their feelings.

Ofsted and the Government are due to respond to their consultation by the end of the month.

"Early analysis of the consultation responses shows broad support for many aspects of the consultation. Many of the indicators proposed, including those derived from surveys of parents/carers and pupils and information about attendance and exclusions, are invaluable," an Ofsted spokeswoman said.

"They will help schools to evaluate and compare aspects of their own practice with schools nationally, as well providing evidence for Ofsted inspections," she added.

Source: ANI

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