Annex 2: Note of the Committee's discussions
with secondary school and college students, November 2011|
This note offers a brief record of two meetings held
with secondary school and college students from London and Hertfordshire,
at the House of Commons. The discussions were intended to gather
students' views on the qualities of the best teachers.
Members in attendance: Pat Glass MP, Damian Hinds
MP, Craig Whittaker MP
Students agreed that outstanding teachers shared
a range of qualities. Making learning fun and engaging was considered
crucial, although students pointed out that an ability to keep
discipline was equally important, and that some 'fun' teachers
could get taken advantage of. Active and interactive learning
was seen as a trademark of good teachers, rather than lessons
which involved the teacher talking too much (an emphasis on practical
tasks was put forward by both groups). An ability to relate to
young people (being "in tune" with them, as one student
said) was also seen as vital, as this encouraged your students
to learn more and to respect the teacher in question. However,
creating respect amongst students was seen as a 'mystery'! Teachers
with 'bad attitudes' towards young people did not inspire learning
to happen. Understanding of subject was seen as very importantone
student pointed out that if a teacher doesn't know anything, you
won't learn anythingbut the ability to communicate the
knowledge, and enthusiasm for the subject area, were also regarded
as a key qualities.
Very few young people seemed to have considered teaching
themselves. For some, this was because they didn't see their teachers
as role models, or because they thought teaching as a career appeared
unexciting. Teaching was seen as needing qualities which some
students felt they didn't possesssuch as patienceand
it was acknowledged that working with children could be very difficult.
Teaching was seen by some as a stressful job.
Of those students who were considering a career in
teaching, the motivation was largely due to intrinsic factors:
for example, students said they wanted to help people with particular
problems, or had a desire to work with children. It was pointed
out that teachers benefit the whole of society, and everyone needs
good teachers, which implied a rewarding profession. Among the
more extrinsic rewards of teaching, good holidays were noted.
Approximately 10% of the students in one group felt teaching was
badly paid. However, the general consensus from many students
was that higher salaries would not persuade them to consider the
profession any more. Teaching, one student said, "is not
all about money". Furthermore, students didn't want to be
taught by people who were 'in it for the money'. In the
other group, it was suggested that teachers should be paid more.
When asked what the Government could do to improve
the overall quality of teaching, recruitment of people with the
above qualities was high on the list of responses. In particular,
students pointed out that teachers should be assessed on their
subject capabilities as well as their personal skills. Teachers
needed to be mentors, one student said, and should have a good
rapport with young people. Students should, it was felt, be able
to offer feedback on their teachers' performance (some had experienced
this, but others had not). Others suggested that students should
be better involved in the selection and appraisal of staff.
Teacher training, it was felt, needed to be practical,
and more young people should be recruited to teaching, although
it was pointed out that good, older teachers could be "in
touch" with students as well.