Students at Victorian schools in Australia now have a say in the hiring process of schools' teaching staff.
Schools like Templestowe College, Melton West Primary and Eltham Secondary College are all using the student selection panels, charged with interviewing prospective teachers and later appointing them after consulting the school board.
The panels include students of several grades and they get 15 minutes with the applicant. These children are trained to conduct the interview and are taught about candidate confidentiality.
Spokeswoman of Victorian Student Representative Council Tess Shacklock believes that students provide an important and different perspective. Shacklock, a year 12 student, also sits on a student selection panel at Templestowe College.
“It's the students who are being taught by the teachers so it's important that students have a say in whether they are employed. You get a good idea of a person when you look at their resume, but when you see them in a room you really see how they interact,” she explained.
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The principal of the college, Peter Hutton, supports this system whole-heartedly and has run it effectively for the past four years.
“To be honest if somebody wasn't prepared to be interviewed by students, then they wouldn't be a good fit for us anyway. They wouldn't have the right attitude if that was going to be too confrontational for them,” he said. “The students take it very, very seriously. There have been very few occasions where we haven’t agreed as a panel.”
While students think it’s crucial to have a say when it comes to appointing the teacher, the Australian Education Union does not seem too thrilled with it.
The Victorian branch president of Education Union, Meredith Peace, says students shouldn't decide who is employed.
“You need to have people on those panels who bring a depth of experience and knowledge which students, through no fault of their own, have not yet developed. There is a place for student input but it should be fed into the process,” Peace said.