Pupils have their say on teaching at Dunoon Grammar

Dunoon Grammar School has launched an initiative to encourage young people to make their voice heard and get involved in making important decisions about their learning experiences.

The ‘Wee How Good is Our School’ (Wee HGIOS) initiative has been launched as part of Education Scotland’s HGIOS 4 - a framework designed to support self-evaluation in schools.

Dunoon Grammar piloted the project last year with 14 teachers from five departments and a group of 15 pupils. Pupils were invited to tell teachers what they thought about their teaching methods, what they felt could be improved for pupils and ways in which teachers could change the structure of their lessons to benefit students.

At the end of the pilot, staff completed a questionnaire on how they had found the experience, with the results showing that they found the experience extremely beneficial and enlightening to get feedback on their lessons through the eyes of their pupils. Due to the success of the pilot, the school is now rolling out the project across all subjects, with training being provided to all pupils through Personal and Social Education (PSE).

Kirsty Campbell, Depute Head Teacher at the school, is responsible for meeting pupil needs.

She said: ‘Wee HGIOS’ is aimed at giving pupils the opportunity to have a say on their own learning experiences and provide feedback to teachers. Self-evaluation as a tool for improving learning experiences for young people is reinforced in early Curriculum for Excellence policy documents and we felt that it was important to develop a consistent approach to increasing the pupil voice in the self-evaluation activities.”

Kirsty attended an event in Edinburgh last year featuring Professor John Hattie, who was lecturing on visible learning. It was during this that she learned about how several primary schools had increased pupil opinions in making decisions about their learning and teaching.

Kirsty, who teaches Computing Science, then led two pupil focus groups to develop the Wee HGIOS evaluative tool and along with Alex Johnson, also a Depute Head Teacher at Dunoon Grammar, she introduced the pupils to HGIOS 4 and explained how the document was used to evaluate the quality of the school. The children were then asked to come up with key indicators to measure the quality of their learning experience and chose learning, teaching and school.

It has not just the school’s pupils who are enthused about the project. Head Teacher David Mitchell said: “The pupils and staff involved in the pilot both agreed that the experience had been very beneficial. The teaching staff found the feedback very interesting and said that it has helped shape the delivery of future lessons.”

Argyll and Bute Council’s Policy Lead for Education, Councillor Yvonne McNeilly said: “This is a wonderful project to get young people actively involved in their learning and provide feedback to teachers on where improvements can be made.

“It enables our teachers and pupils to work together and evaluate the methods that are used, what works and what doesn’t.

“By involving young people in their own learning, it encourages them to develop a level of awareness and take ownership of their learning. This is a great initiative.”

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