Book of the week: Beauty, warmth, shelter

29th August 2003 at 01:00

The School I'd Like
Edited by Catherine Burke and Ian Grosvenor
RoutledgeFalmer pound;16.99

This sadly enchanting and thought-provoking paperback, inspired by 15,000 entries to a competition launched by the Guardian in 2001, should be compulsory reading for the clutch of architects currently planning DfES prototypes for schools of the future. Teachers and heads will wryly welcome its refreshing approach to the effective schools debate, contrasting 30 years of education policy-making with children's opinions.

Civilised toilets top the wish lists of The School I'd Like. My adult daughter recently told me she survived secondary schooling without once feeling able to use school toilets. As head of a similar inner-city school, I feel relieved that I read this book after, rather than before, commissioning refurbishment of school toilets.

"Sweet-smelling toilets with doors that lock,
But instead we've got:
Toilets so disgusting they're like a cellblock,
All grungy and mungy, only a couple that lock."
(Sophie, primary pupil in Edinburgh.)

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