Are the kids all right?

In an age of increasing accountability, it can be easy to forget that the true judges of a school’s excellence are the children who attend it every day. With that in mind, we asked primary and secondary students across the UK for their views on the elements that create a great learning environment. Kate Parker reveals the results – and questions if schools are still able to deliver this vision of education as budgets get ever-tighter

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Young people do not care about your teaching. Or, rather, it is not the thing they care about most. We asked thousands of five- to 16-year-olds what makes a great school, and their replies did not contain anything about grades or fantastic explanations or a finely tuned knowledge-rich curriculum. They did not utter a word about performance tables, Progress 8 or scaled scores. The primary pupils’ top answer about what makes a school great was “kind teachers who listen, care and love us”, while at secondary, teens opted for a “range of extracurricular activities” (incidentally, this was number ...

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