German schoolchildren will be able to rate their teachers online, after a court threw out the case of a woman who argued her rights had been infringed by pupils who gave her a bad review on a website.
The Federal Court of Justice said the right to express an opinion outweighed her concerns. “We make it quite clear that it is not a personal attack but an appraisal of her work as a teacher,” said Tino Keller, the website’s editor-in-chief. “She has to realise that the pupils are allowed to say what they think in this respect. It is freedom of opinion.” The court also said the woman, who taught German and religious studies, could not prove that she had been harmed in any way. But her lawyer maintains the site is unfair and inaccurate: “It is bad that the contributors are allowed to remain anonymous and can rate the same teacher several times over,” said Cornelie Von Gierke. “I don’t think that is in the spirit of transparency and objectivity that the site promotes.” The website allows pupils to rate their teachers on a scale from one to six – the same scale used by schools for marks. Categories include “cool and funny”, “popular”, “motivated”, “human” and “good teaching”. Observers say the case could set an important precedent for other rating portals such as those for doctors and hospitals.