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Bill is flushed down the pan

BETTER bogs mean better brains, pupils in East Renfrewshire have insisted to ministers.

If Sam Galbraith and Peter Peacock, whose Education Bill is out for consultation, want to make a difference they should tackle one of the oldest and most intractable problems - the appalling state of school loos.

Many doors have no locks, secondary pupils protest.

And there may well be a devious masterplan to cover up the shortcoming by restricting their intake of fluids. Both primary and secondary pupils complain that there is nowhere to get a drink of water.

Messrs Galbraith and Peacock have already asked Save the Children to canvass pupil views about the Bill over the next few weeks. Eighty children will be involved in focus groups.

The wish list in East Renfrewshire's survey of primaries and secondaries includes carpeted classrooms, working blinds and comfortable chairs. More after-school activities would also be appreciated.

Secondary pupils raise their traditional grievance about the lack of common rooms and social areas. Chairs and desks need to be improved and modernised, they say, and young people need to be consulted more fully on a range of subjects.

With heavy bags to carry, they should not be asked to walk up to three miles to school and lockers would help ease the backbreaking burden. Sports and PE are not taken seriously enough, and are generally looked on as "timetable fillers".

The lengthy list of improvements includes better advice and information about Higher Still, freedom to opt out of learning a modern language and higher quality textbooks.

Many say that the transition from Standard grade to Higher is too great, adding to the pressures they are under. The vast majority believe Standard grade exams could have been taken by the end of S3.

In a statement obviously designed to curry favour with HM Inspectorate, they report they learn better when the teacher teaches the class directly, rather than relying on worksheets or workbooks.

And another thing - "we need more PCs".

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