HANDS DOWN: Mansfield school bans students raising hands in class

Principal Barry Found at Samworth Church Academy, Sherwood Hall Road, Mansfield.

Principal Barry Found at Samworth Church Academy, Sherwood Hall Road, Mansfield.

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A Mansfield head teacher has abolished the 'age old' practice of students raising their hands to answer questions in the classroom.

Principal at Samworth Church Academy, Barry Found, alerted parents in his Autumn letter that the days of eager hands stretching for the ceiling to answer were over.

He said: "We have taken the decision at the academy to dispense with the age old “hands up to answer a question” practice.

"We find that the same hands are going up and as such the teaching does not challenge and support the learning of all.

"From Monday, November 28, hands will only be raised in the academy to establish silence for listening (the students are very used to this practice and are brilliant at it.)

"We will use a variety of other techniques to ensure that every student is challenged and developed in class through our questioning and that every student has opportunities to contribute and participate."

The thinking behind the shift in teaching style which has swept a number of schools in the country, is that some pupils readily put up their hands while others lag behind and go under the teacher's radar.

Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of the Institute of Education first trialed the practice with a year eight group at Hertswood School, in Hertfordshire in 2010. He said the class was initially shocked into being alert as teachers asked random students questions, but "by far the most successful way to engage the whole class was to issue mini-whiteboards on which each pupil wrote their answer," he added.

"It's the return of the slate. Two hundred years ago, the best teachers were getting every child to write their answers on slates."

Samworth's decision to join numerous other schools who have taken on the 'progressive' technique, follows calls for the traditional style to be brought back.

Tom Bennett, the head of a government working group on classroom behaviour branded the new technique a 'gimmick' last year and said teachers should be able to use common sense.

Liam Conway of the National Union of Teachers said: "This is a policy which may have some good reasoning behind it. But problem with this is I suspect it's a policy that hasn't been put to proper consultation."

Our readers online have had mixed responses to the idea.

Connor Marriott said on Facebook: "I know I didn't like putting my hand up as a child- banning it, if anything, will make things worse, because some children will see answering at all now as a bad thing."

Michelle Beech said: "As long as the teacher doesn't pick out the same kids, maybe rotation of children, and if a child doesn't know then the teacher should explain again to the whole class. I never put my hand up in school even when I knew the answer."

Denise Parkinson said: "I suppose they will have a bell on each desk."