What Do Kids Think About School?

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What students think about the services they receive has not typically attracted the attention of the education system. The decisions are made by policymakers, educators, parents, and administrators. 

Asking children about the value of education, their experiences with it, or their suggestions for improving it has been criticised as being naive or tokenistic because it is assumed that children won’t know what is best for them or will make unimportant demands.

As a part of their report, the HundRED conducted a student survey, questioning 322 students who were educated in 19 countries and identified as 56 different ethnicities ‘What they think about school?’.

61% of students want better learning environments, which was the second largest concern for students. Learning environments are rarely raised as a serious cause for concern, and hardly ever feature in future plans laid out by governments and education organisational bodies. 

It’s therefore surprising that so many young people picked up on this as a major need for improvement.

Some of the results of asking students what they think about their education are alarming.  From late 2021 to May 2022, the US-based nonprofit Transcend Education polled more than 20,000 students about their educational experiences. It found:

  • Only 35% say they get to learn about things they’re interested in
  • Only 29% say they have a say about what happens to them
  • Only 31% say they can choose how to do their work

Students have been speaking forever. What seems to be changing is the recognition that kids need more and that they have insights (they also have social media accounts, which helps amplify their message). The result, in some cases, is that more adults are turning up to listen.