• Charles Farrugia

4. My Favourite School

Updated: Oct 21, 2020

In 1967, the renowned British newspaper The Observer launched a project inviting students to describe the kind of school they would like. The results were published in a best-seller under the same title by Edward Blishen.

The Guardian (The Observer’s sister weekly) repeated the project in 2001 and 2011. I expect them to do the sane in 2021. I borrow below the following extracts from their Children’s Manifesto of 2011 for you to think about.

Students wanted their schools to be:

Active – with lots of different sports, including judo, dance, karate, football, abseiling, and a swimming pool with slides.

Calm – with a chill-out room; music instead of bells, and a quiet place inside at playtime for drawing, reading and board games.

Comfortable – with beanbags, big enough chairs, small enough chairs, slippers, and somewhere personal to store things. There should be cold drinks in the summer and hot drinks to warm you up in winter.

Creative and colourful – with lots of room to make and display art, bright painted walls in corridors and dining rooms, and flowers in the classroom.

Friendly – with kind teachers who speak softly and don't shout, and special members of staff that you can go and talk to. You should be allowed to sit with your friends in class and assembly.

Listening – with forums for classes to express their views and also chances for students to have quiet chats with teachers. Don't just listen, but take children's comments seriously and make changes as a result.

Outside – fortnightly school trips (without worksheets).

Technological – with iPads to read and work on, MP3 players for relaxing during breaks or to help concentrate while working alone, and usb sticks to take work home (and save paper).

What the perfect school would have:

★ No homework (all the work would be finished at school), ★ A flexible timetable, ★ An hour-long lunchbreak, ★ Pets, ★ A choice of uniform to express your personality, ★ After-school clubs in all sorts of subjects, ★ Hot dinners, ★ An iPad for each pupil ★ Fewer tests (but not no tests at all).

The student’s feature of her school that struck me most, was:

"The cool thing is the friendship bench. If anyone sits on there sad, someone comes up to them and always says what's wrong and they will sort it out with a big cuddle and go off and start playing together."

Some of the students’ wishes are extravagant, e.g. “a swimming pool with slides in every school”. Others unusual, e.g. “abseiling” and “having pets in class”, but most desires are extremely reasonable and many of our today schools are implement them.

So, compare these students’ wishes with those that you and your children would like their school to be like. How close does your children’s schools come to the ideal?

Next blog: Why is it important to know the root or origin of the word ‘Education’.

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