I would like you to put some new rights in place for the one group of people whose views on education are usually ignored - the pupils. It is time to move away from the culture which sees young people only as recipients of the decisions of adults, and give them a stake in their own education. This is one way in which they will learn to respect and value it.
Children should have a statutory right to an education according to their needs, abilities and aptitudes. LEAs should be required to have a pupils' rights officer to act as a local advocate and representative and to develop effective means of enabling their participation in decision-making. Children, as well as parents, should have rights of appeal against admissions, exclusions etc. and have the opportunity to have their views represented, independently, in any decision which will affect them.
Schools and LEAs should be required to have written complaints and grievance procedures for their pupils, including independent resolution of disputes, binding on all parties. It should be an offence to remove children from a school roll without proper procedures or to discriminate against those with special needs or other problems when deciding admissions.
All schools must have anti-bullying and child protection policies and be required to consult their consumers on matters of uniform, discipline etc. It is time we re-affirmed that schools are for children, not adults.
BEN WHITNEY, Education social worker, 47 Manor Farm Crescent, Stafford
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Fax: 0171 782 3200; email copytes1.demon.co.uk