Why children don't hate school

27th March 2009 at 00:00

After working very hard to ensure that children and adults engage positively through Children's Parliament processes, we were disappointed to read the headline of your recent article "We hate school because ..." (March 13), following our successful "Me and My School" gathering.

None of the children said they hated school. This negative tone would never be set at any Children's Parliament event.

The Children's Parliament works with under-14s and creates opportunities for them to engage in direct conversations with people who make decisions which affect their lives. We take great care to ensure children have had time to think about an issue that is important to them and to help them think about how to convey that message in a constructive way which acknowledges the part they can play in its resolution.

Clearly, there is a challenge in being able to raise contentious issues in a way that they will be "heard" and reflected on positively. The children said they wanted to get rid of "favouritism", "shouting" and "bullying". They also said that they listened best when teachers were "kind", "listen to us" and "give us choices".

Engaging in discussions in this way makes it easier for teachers to hear and easier for children to be honest. It provides a strong platform from which to move forward as partners towards the same positive outcomes.

There are few opportunities for children to discuss their teaching and learning experiences in school. Pupil voice frequently extends to playground matters, the quality of school meals and the state of the toilets. However, children have so much more to contribute that would inform the development of best practice. The way issues are explored with them is the magic ingredient.

The Children's Parliament looks forward to continued good working relationships with some fantastic headteachers and school staff throughout Scotland, who are already trying to ensure children have the best possible experiences through better-quality relationships with all adults who work with and support them in school.

Cathy McCulloch, director, Children's Parliament, Scotland.

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