Out of the Mouths of Babes

In our recent blog, we made reference to ‘pupil voice’. Too often we ignore what children and young people have to say about education, about the world, about what they want.

The Cambridge Review of Primary Education was particularly focused on the views of children. The researchers listened carefully to their needs, and developed a philosophy of primary education according to what they had heard. This was part of the reason why this research and its subsequent recommendations were so powerful.

Children have a voice and a view, only we tend not to have ears to hear them. Yet there is that old phrase “out of the mouths of babes” which we also choose to ignore.

We can talk about our ideas on education. We can demonstrate our model of intelligences for those who want to listen, but sometimes there’s a time to listen to someone else’s perspective – younger people too.

Today we’re posting a piece of writing from a young person who has spent time reflecting on learning, what works for them and what they want from their educational experience. It is an honest opinion that one hopes might be considered by any school manager or senior leader that finds that this person’s view of school is somewhat familiar.

As ever, we welcome any comments on this piece.


Hello.  I’m a student at a school that has recently become an academy. I’m in Year 10 – going into Year 11, or as I should say Key Stage 4. Not just for simplicity’s sake, but because that’s what years 10 and 11 will be referred to as; Key Stage 4. One set of year leaders, and all the forms will have KS4 instead of the respective years of 10 and 11. This could be a problem. Say a letter goes out for a Key Stage 4 trip, but it’s only for the lower half, and the upper KS4 think it’s for them…..… if only there was some way of differentiating us!

Of course this scenario has already happened, with an email going out to parents who were mightily confused that there was a school trip of which they knew nothing, mainly because it was nothing to do with them: wrong year group!

Luckily one of our teachers came up with an excellent way to differentiate us in recent assemblies without using the words 10 or 11. Because the Year 9’s are not yet in key stage 4, but they’re in Key Stage 4 forms, they are in our assemblies. Key Stage Four and Key Stage Three have different uniforms; so our teacher referred to those of us already in Key Stage Four as the blue shirts and the Year 9’s as the white shirts. Blue collar white collar, anyone? Such a negative way to split us, and a lot of people picked up just how wrong it could be if our uniforms were brown……….

The content of the assemblies is getting rather rich too. In one instance we were told that nastiness of any kind was unacceptable, and if you were “nasty” you were out…………… unless of course you are ‘clever’ enough when it comes to results that would make the school look good. Those who are capable of gaining high level results may be excused a bit of poor behaviour – or so it seems.

And this is what boils my blood; the one thing that has been annoying me most.

In assembly we were told that the staff in school were there to help us get the best results we can, and that that should be our goal.
NOO! It’s not my goal!

I was tempted to get up and walk out of the door because I know my learning is not about results. I want to actually learn; either to pick up a skill that could be useful, safe in the knowledge I can do it, or to learn more about the amazing world that surrounds us – the history, the politics, the culture, the nature, the philosophy and even the science.

Learning is not all about results, about cold and assessed intelligence. It’s about thinking and engaging on another level, on your own level and learning things in your own way, for your own good. Learning either by yourself or with others can be so satisfying because of the level of interest. Focusing on results, however, can make you stressed and worried. You feel pressure, you feel stymied by convention and you can’t find a place for your own ideas, or questions.

I think in some cases, I’ve learnt more at home than at school, without even being set work – even by accident sometimes. I do feel like our school is too centred around the end not the journey sometimes. At other times I must admit that we can stray away from the curriculum and the necessary for the test, but still stay within the subject; these are the times I am most engaged, the times when I feel I am actually learning something new, useful and interesting.

This has been secondary school education, from someone who experiences it every day, and though I may ramble, I hope my ideas were clear. Thank you for reading 😀

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at https://3diassociates.wordpress.com/ or see our website at www.3diassociates.com.
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