This is such an important step in improving things for children that I'm running it in full here. Thank you Ms. Birkett and thank you Guardian for this piece and please forgive me for taking the liberty of running it in whole. I think it is very important for as many people as possible to see this. -- CM
The Guardian, UK
The Children's Manifesto
From milk cows to after-school clubs, ideas flooded in from children all over the country about the kind of school they would like. Here is their manifesto
★ Active – with lots of different sports, including judo, dance, karate, football and abseiling, and a swimming pool with slides. Playgrounds with climbing frames and treehouses where you could learn about nature.
"Rock climbing could help your education because you have to think where to put your hands and feet."
★ 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.
"Pink fluffy carpet so we can walk around in our socks."
★ 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.
"I would like to ban the colours black, brown and grey from our school."
★ Expert - with teachers who don't just read up about their subjects, but live them, and visiting celebrities to talk about what they do.
"In the classroom we should have Stephen Hawking to teach us science. I would like Gordon Ramsay to cook our lunch, but he would have to promise to zip his mouth. I would like Besse Cooper to teach us history, according to the internet she is the oldest person alive today so she could tell us about her life."
★ Flexible – with more time for favourite subjects, no compulsory subjects apart from maths and English, and more time for art and sport.
"If we're doing something that needs a lot of thinking, there should be enough time to finish."
★ 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.
"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."
★ Listening – with forums for classes to express their views and also chances for pupils to have quiet chats with teachers. Don't just listen, but take children's comments seriously and make changes as a result.
"I like the idea of having a suggestion box because we can share each other's ideas with the school council."
★ Inclusive –with pupils of all achievement, ability and background learning together. Everybody should learn in one room, with opportunities for small group or private work.
"I think it's unfair that only the people who are good at writing stories have their stories displayed in the school hall. I think everyone should have their work displayed. That way no one feels left out."
★ International – with food from all over the world on the dinner menu and pupils from all over the world in the classroom; with opportunities to go abroad to learn languages and about other cultures.
"At lunchtime a buffet with Namibian, Chinese, Indian and French food would be served on flower-shaped plates and we would listen to music from that country as we ate."
★ Outside – fortnightly school trips (without worksheets), animals to look after like chickens, sheep and horses, and greenhouses to grow fruit and vegetables to eat at school and sell to raise funds.
★ 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).
"There should be digital recorders available for lessons, so if you go to the toilet, when you come back you can catch up on what you have missed."
What the perfect school would have
★ No homework (all the work would be finished at school)
★ A flexible timetable
★ An hour-long lunchbreak
★ First-aid lessons
★ A choice of uniform to express your personality
★ After-school clubs in all sorts of subjects
★ Hot dinners
★ An iPad for each pupil
★ A football field
★ Fewer tests (but not no tests at all)