SAM GALBRAITH met Scotland's pupils in Edinburgh's Assembly Rooms this week to reassure them they had made an important contribution to the shape of Scottish education, and would continue to do so.
The 30 children, aged six to 16, were drawn from the 11 focus groups brought together on behalf of the Scottish Executive by the Save the Children charity to say how they would like to see their schools improved.
The young people presented their views in a series of art and drama performances, after which they put questions to the minister. Mr Galbraith replied with a judicious balance of "yes, I agree" and "yes, we are already doing something about that".
The Scottish Executive Education Department has made two changes to the draft Bill to take account of pupils' views. Pupil councils will have to be consulted on school development plans and other pupils must also be given an opportunity tohave their say. The plans, which will become a legal requirement, must also include an indication of what arrangements schools have made to listen to pupils.
Other pupil demands are more complex, as the wish list from the focus groups shows:
Good relations with teachers, with smaller classes, more informal contact and mutual respect.
A more flexible school day to meet pupils' personal, emotional or physical needs as well as their educational ones, with teachers taking time to find out more about their needs.
More opportunity to learn in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, using learning techniques which include practical activities as well as discussion, inside and outwith the classroom.
A stimulating and pleasant school environment.
Pupils' views about the purpose of school ran the expected gamut from "to learn lots of things" to "school's crap - what's the point?"