Why you should listen to the children - they have important things to say!

Clare Flintoff. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Clare Flintoff. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

In her latest column CLARE FLINTOFF, chief executive at ASSET Education - an education charity trust that runs 14 primary schools across Suffolk - says that children have some wonderful things to say.

"How are we going to make sure that our final year at primary school is the most successful and enjoyable year we've ever had?"

Working together in the hall at St Helen's Primary, the outgoing Pupil Parliament members were deep in conversation about what they could do, what their parents could do and what their schools could do to make year-six the best year yet.

There was lots of conversation, ideas were scribbled onto post-it notes and then gathered together for further analysis.

These children, from across our schools, have worked with me for a year now, feeding back their experiences of school, supporting, guiding, inspiring and helping me to do my job.

I spend just one day every half-term with them and these are the days I look forward to most. Once in year-six they meet for one final day and we plan how the next parliament will be selected - a process that they run back in their schools and later this month we start all over again with a new group of year-five children.

During the year we have undertaken a number of tasks together, including writing a children's version of the Ofsted framework with a set of questions to judge a school from the perspective of the child.

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We held a debate on school lunches in the Council Chamber at Endeavour House and we visited the Houses of Parliament and sat on the green benches in the House of Commons.

We have thought about the purpose of education, we have discussed 'equity' and how it goes a step further than 'equality', we have looked at learning environments in different schools and considered how teachers can help us learn.

Back in their schools they have held meetings with their headteachers, some have presented to the governors and most have carried out surveys to capture the views of other pupils in their school.

So, what are they going to do this year in order to be successful?

Answers included being positive, happy and smiling more; having a good attitude to learning; being kind and helping friends if they are stuck; being ready to learn, asking for help, concentrating and even, "accept homework and see it as a good thing"!

They all knew it was an important year for them, with SATs looming in May, but I was relieved to hear that they were looking forward to showing what they could do, rather than having anything to fear.

I wanted to encourage them to make the most of their last year at primary school, to enjoy being the oldest in the school and to begin to think about the responsibility they have for self-care, making their own choices, becoming the people they want to be.

So, what can their parents and family members do to help them have the most enjoyable and successful year ever?

Without any editing, this is what they said...

? Be more aware of what we are doing in school.

? Learn alongside us and share mistakes

? Encourage and help us to do homework and learn more.

? Talk about and share our day.

? Tell teachers what learning we do at home.

? Invite people around to learn with us.

? Take trips that could help with homework.

? Listen to us read and read to us.

? Look at ways you can help us learn out of school.

? Motivate us to learn and boost it by learning at home.

? Test us on spellings.

? Ensure we are at school on time.

? Feed us healthy food.

? Make sure we go to bed early enough to get a good night's sleep.

? Make sure we are happy and safe.

? Send us to school with clean uniforms and the things we need to learn

If you have a young person in your family in full time education, why not ask them what they need from you?

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