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Youthful visions of class of the future

Children will be taught how to fly their jetpacks at school. The language of text messaging will dominate English lessons. Robots will replace teachers. And any pupil who misbehaves faces the electric chair.

Welcome to the classroom of 2015, as envisaged by perhaps the most imaginative focus group in Britain.

Two classes of primary-school pupils were asked what English lessons might look like in 10 years' time. The more serious of their opinions, captured in interviews by academics at the National Foundation for Educational Research, will feed into a review of the subject by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. But it was the flights of fancy from the youngsters - one class of seven-year-olds, another of 11-year-olds - which caught the eye. A conference, hosted by the NfER, was told that in future there would be no such thing as good English, and that all youngsters would be taught to speak in text language.

But who would be doing the teaching? Not the teachers, Year 6 youngsters believed. The pupils were the experts, so it would be up to them to advise their elders in textese.

Professional jobs are under threat from another quarter, too. Within 10 years, there will be robot teachers, reckoned some of the 11-year-olds.

The robots would mark pupils' work automatically. And ministers favouring personalised learning might be interested to note the children's view that robots will be better equipped to provide lessons tailored to the learning needs of particular pupils.

The 11-year-olds suggested that technology could lead to children in schools which were less high-tech losing out.

One ventured that digital tools such as spell-checkers could make learners lazy in that they neglected traditional English skills. Others said people might not want to read books on the screen because they would get sore eyes.

The study is feeding into the QCA's English 21 consultation on what the subject will look like in 2015.

News 12, Platform 21

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