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What they really, really want ...

Kids just want to have fun - it's official (well, almost). But they also want to learn, they like teachers who like them and they want their teaching to be interesting and active. In all the professional angst about what the profession should be about, is this not the package that should constitute the mantra - out of the mouths of babes? These findings from the research carried out as part of the "assessment is for learning" programme (page three) will not be hugely surprising. Perhaps some of the contrasting views of teachers will not be startling either, or even the fact that there are areas in which the outlook of pupil and teacher coincides.

Pupils are not used to being consulted, although the current drive to embed children's rights has brought it closer than ever before. There is also now a realisation that the search for school improvement and for "inspirational" teachers (Scotland Plus, 2-3) will continue to be elusive unless, as they say, you take the punters with you.

So this initiative from the assessment industry to find out what pupils really, really want is to be welcomed. Let us hope it is fed back into the system to render the school experience a positive one for thousands of youngsters. After all, much time has been wasted. It is now almost a quarter of a century since the seminal Tell Them From Me was published, with telling and often depressing comments from pupils a year after they left school. As the editors, Andrew McPherson and Lesley Gow, put it in 1980: "If we are reluctant to listen to pupils and engage them in dialogue, then we are almost certainly also reluctant to educate them. And that is exactly what many pupils say is the case."

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