Saturday 17 March 2018

iPhones used to comment on lessons

Pupils in a Kent school were given iPhones to comment on lessons
Pupils in a Kent school were given iPhones to comment on lessons

Pupils have been given iPhones to pass instant judgement on their teachers in lessons, a teaching union has been told.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) heard that an unnamed secondary school in Kent gave the technology to around 20 students and asked them to send their comments to the head as part of a "quality assurance week".

But teachers raised concerns at the lack of transparency and staff being prevented from having the right to reply.

Backing a motion on pupil observation at ATL's annual conference in Manchester, John Rivers, an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) secondary school teacher in Kent, told delegates: "There is a school in Kent brought to my attention by members where students during QA week are using school-issued iPhones to record their feelings during lessons." The comments were used to draw conclusions about the quality of learning, he said.

"How were the students chosen? What training were they given? Were they given carte blanche to comment on anything?" The teachers at the school did not know if they would be given a right to reply, or see the comments, Mr Rivers said.

"I have no problem, generally, in asking pupils about how they felt about my lesson. It is just that I believe there should be clear guidance on how these observations should be conducted and reported."

Speaking afterwards, Mr Rivers said there were concerns that teachers could face negative comments if they had told a pupil off.

He said that when messages are "going off into the ether", teachers can lose the right to reply or see what's been said.

Such schemes can make teachers feel they are being "watched", Mr Rivers said. "I suppose staff must feel it's a bit threatening, if it's not transparent."

ATL passed a resolution calling for the union to issue guidance on how lesson observations by pupils should be conducted and reported.

Press Association

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