We hate school because ..

13th March 2009 at 00:00
Crabby teachers, a snarling head and pet pupils are thrown in the dustbin. Emma Seith investigates

Homework pressure, favouritism, uninspiring lessons, lack of choice and "crabbit" teachers are just some of the problems with Scottish education, according to children.

"Mrs Moanie", depute head of Moanie Primary, hates children and her job. There is also Mrs Always Crabbit and a headteacher, represented by Cerberus, the three-headed dog said to guard the underworld, who sees children as "snacks, not people".

All these characters featured prominently when 50 children, aged between nine and 14 were asked their views about school in a special event last week in Edinburgh, called The Gathering, organised by the Children's Parliament.

Children disliked being made a "laughing stock" by teachers when they made mistakes, and teachers who had pet pupils, they said.

These issues and many others - including a lack of space, uninspiring teaching and rigid timetables - were consigned to the dustbin, quite literally, in a short play, put on by the youngsters to get their opinions across.

Jade, 14, from Prestwick, said: "If teachers gave you more choice about what you were doing, rather than just telling you what you should do, it would be easier for us to learn and we would enjoy it more because we would want to do it."

Other presentations at The Gathering, which sought to reflect the children's views on education, included a poetry recital, an art work display and a silent play.

The so-called "labyrinth of ideas" was created by youngsters from the Children's Parliament, which provides opportunities for youngsters aged nine to 14 years to engage in local, national and international democratic processes.

Following the event, one headteacher said she now realised that, although schools did consult with pupils, they were asking the wrong questions.

Marion Lawrence of St Joseph's Primary in Dundee, said that on returning to school, she would be concentrating more on asking questions about "crabby" teachers and less on the state of the toilets. "We can provide a structured curriculum and opportunities to learn, but if there are crabby teachers, pupils are not going to take these opportunities."

Keith Brown, the new Minister for Schools and Skills, said he would take on board the messages that adults needed to become better listeners.

Kathleen Marshall, Scotland's Commissioner for Children and Young People, said: "Children don't just want information 'put' into them, they want to be inspired. But it's a win-win situation because I think teachers love to inspire. We have to give them the confidence and skills to do that."


Scott, 14, South Ayrshire

It's time I was inspired by the people I see

Instead of being bored floating away

Sure Paris is in France and 3 x 3's nine

But is that all I am, just knowledge, just facts?

It's time I was inspired to be in that class

To see that damn teacher get up off their ass

For them to tell me things I never knew

To show me the world; let me be part of it too

Liam, 14, South Ayrshire

Don't patronise me in that babyish voice

I'm not thick I'm just quiet and that's my choice

Try being me with tests and exams

I want to go out but I'm stuck at my Gran's

I want a place of my own with freedom from strife

But I'm stuck at home where nagging is rife

I try to act normal and help where I can

But it's not easy being stuck between a boy and a man.

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