School days can often be filled with fear and anxiety, says a report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children this week.
Pupils cited corridors, lavatories and playgrounds as areas where they were bullied, jostled or pushed. Many found the school day too rushed: a race punctuated by bells, jostling in narrow corridors and hasty lunches.
Lavatories were described as smelly and dirty with broken doors, no seats or toilet paper, and with racist graffiti.
The report, A Child's View of School, said: "At times school life sounded like the survival of the fittest and fastest, and somewhat of a jungle for the shy, unconfident child."
Some of the 150 primary and secondary children in the Midlands and Wales surveyed said they were put off certain subjects by teachers' sarcasm and mockery of wrong answers. They wanted less criticism and more encouragement.
Children wanted an independent grown-up to talk to rather than a teacher or a school nurse, says the NSPCC. School councils were suggested as a way of getting views across to teachers.
Despite criticisms, it was clear that many enjoyed school and coped with most difficulties, says the report, but adds that schools must find ways of consulting pupils on a regular basis.
A Child's View of School, NSPCC, National Centre, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2 3NH, Pounds 3.50.