A respectful and listening school "Respect" was the single word that occurred most; it was what the children wanted, yet felt they didn't get. They were cajoled into doing work they weren't interested in, made to fit into someone else's ideal curriculum, and most of all not listened to. They were treated like kids. Few objected to rules - in fact, most children wanted clear guidelines. It was unfair rules, written only for the benefit of the adults, that they objected to. Some had a few kind words for the rule enforcers - the teachers; many felt they were bound by Sats results and league tables. But no one was hated as much as a bad, boring teacher. Some suggested they should be eliminated altogether, replaced by machines ("telly teachers"). But most argued that they should be retrained to become more flexible, understanding and enthusiastic.
A relevant and flexible school The message was clear: school is boring, but it doesn't have to be that way. If only lessons were made more relevant, learning could be fun. Subjects should be explored through experience, by doing rather than being shown. The suggestions were innovative, from school dinners themed on space food or second world war rationing, to geography trips to tropical rainforests. John Paul Martindale was unusual in designing a specialist History School, where the playground had replica castles, classrooms were in different time zones "such as cowboys, Romans, Celts and Vikings", and teachers were "knights and tribal leaders". Many children wanted teachers who were not only teachers but practitioners. Science teachers should be real scientists, English teachers should work as literary critics, IT teachers should have worked in the industry.