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Young people discuss bullying, citizenship, fair trade and social responsibility. Friday 25th February 2005 – transcript.

Kath:    I’m Kath. I’m the anti bullying co-ordinator for the county. There’s only me and I only work part time, so you won’t see very much of me at all.  I’ve just finished doing the research on bullying in schools, and if you’re really interested in it it’s on the website. Have a look at it.  The other thing that I’m going to be doing shortly is an anti-bullying website which will be interactive, and you should be getting details of that.  So feel free to use it if you want or need to.  So do you know what you’re here for today? Boy:    No. Boy:    No. I just got a letter saying come down.  Kath:    Oh right. I was hoping you’d be telling me, really. Well, you’ve been doing a project on global citizenship, yes? Have you been doing things about  fair trade and that sort of thing? Together:    Yes. Boy:    I’m just saying we had a multi-cultural experience game. I got this list which has got stuff on. It’s a list of global citizenship stuff. Kath:    Oh I see. So you’ve all done various projects in your schools on global citizenship. So has it raised your awareness of how things happen differently in different countries? Well, we’ve got an hour to talk. We have to talk. You’ll get another drink at the end of it.  I’ll not pick on you because you’re very talkative, aren’t you. Have you found it’s made any difference to how you view other countries? Has it  made you more aware? Boy:    Well, it’s shown what they do in Asian countries and, well, mainly Australia. It’s also to do with learning the didgeridoo, Asian Batik designs and stuff. Apparently the didgeridoo was quite big in Asia for some reason. Kath:    Oh right. Boy:    I’m not very talkative now. Kath:    It’s because everybody’s looking at you. So I suppose it’s showing how culture moves from one country to another, then. So did you do anything around trade? Boy:    Yes – we did it in Guidance, didn’t we? It’s there. We didn’t talk much on sixth form because we weren’t there. Yeah, we did that fair trade chocolate game.  Boy:    We had a basically fair trade day thing once.  Boy:    I can’t remember. Kath:    So did other people have a fair trade day? Girl:    We organised one.  Kath:    Oh right. Do you want to tell us about it? So where did you get the fair trade items from? Girl:    We ordered it, and Mrs Wilstead got it for us.  Kath:    Right. So what sort of things did you have? Girl:    [Inaudible] Kath:    And did you get a better understanding of what’s meant by fair trade? You end up with the producer in some countries getting paid virtually nothing,  and then when you get to sort of Nestle they make huge profits. Did you understand that? Boy:    We did it out of shoes. We made soles for trainers and then we had to sell them for money. But then we had to use the money to buy scissors and paper  resources and stuff. And then we had to keep going round to different countries and stuff like that and buying stuff. And then like the shoes will     get sent over to the Nike company and stuff like that.   Kath:    So can you remember sort of what sort of price the people who made the shoes got? I suppose you all know how much Nike sells their trainers for. Man:    The people that made the soles got paid like 2p, but then the soles were going to Nike and they were selling them for like 50 odd quid.  Kath:    So did that seem fair to you? So did you get any sort of insight into what could make it fairer? Boy:    We got this book, didn’t we, this exercise book which showed this lad – you know the football that we get, like the premiership ones. What they do is they’re weaving together, and apparently they get the equivalent of 6p a day. And yet Nike are selling them for about £30-£20 a football.  Kath:    So how did that make you feel? Boy:    Well, it was – Boy:    It’s not fair on the person who makes it. Boy:    It’s just a total rip-off, because nothing is going to them. Boy:    They’re the ones who are doing the work.  Boy:    Nike are processing it on a computer, putting a barcode to it and selling it.    Kath:    So it’s ripping everybody off, really, isn’t it, because the people who buy them are ripped off as well.  Boy:    It’s like that with trainers because you go and you have a look, it’s about £60 for a pair of trainers. And you ask these people how much it was. I  couldn’t pay that in a month of Sundays. I’d rather go into the market and buy a pair for a tenner, which I do – because I’m a cheapskate. I hate     spending money, it’s horrible.  Kath:    So what else did you do? Boy:    We took part in fair trade week last year, and we also had a group that was set up called the Penny Link which is raising money for a school in     Kenya. But we do it by selling fair trade products. We sell them at sports days and parents evenings, and it’s so that they – so that pupils buy the     fair trade products, and some of the money goes to fair trade and then the other – the profits we make go to the school in Kenya. We’ve sold the chocolate bars and the drinks and the Geo bars, but also the cookies and the crafts, you know, the hand made little crafts. There’s all different kinds of them. So we’ve got like tables of that. And on sports days we’ve got a group of us that have gone out with big trays and gone and sold them for like the prices. And we’ve found that even though fair trade products are a bit more expensive than normal, like a normal chocolate bar, they are fairer because the same amount of money goes to the right people. So they’re getting equal. Kath:    So why do you think they’re dearer then, the fair trade things? Boy:    Because they’ve got better quality. That’s what we were doing in Respect with Mrs White. We had to learn about all like how much cocoa and stuff you put in it. And Cadbury’s only has something like 2.5% and Fair Trade had loads. Kath:    Yes – it’s half fat, isn’t it, in Cadbury’s.  Boy:    The dealers as well want to make some money off it. So they’re paying the people who actually get the cocoa more and then they want their profits as well. So they up the prices to try and get some profit out of it as well.  Kath:    So what else besides fair trade things did you do? Girl:    We have citizenship days where all the school takes part and it’s a day when they do different activities to do with different things. So one year do     disability awareness. And it’s to help us broaden our awareness of different things. So we did the environment and disability awareness and we did     fair trade.  We did like a project about – we did questionnaires which we sent out to everybody in school asking them when they got bullied and whereabouts they got bullied, if they wanted to put that. And they like filled in the form and then we collected the results together. And basically told the school  the results and said look, this is what’s happening. And they were quite surprised by how much bullying actually does go on.  And then at the moment we are currently rewriting the bullying policy in our school. Because the one we’ve got at the moment is quite old. So there     are some teachers and the governors and then they’ve got pupils involved as well, rewriting the bullying policy so that they have – so that the pupils are having their input. Because sometimes people might not know fully what’s going on, and pupils might have a better idea. So by getting pupils involved it means that they can say okay, well this is where this kind of bullying happens, so it helps. So we’re doing that at the moment. Kath:    So do your schools involve you in policy writing and decision making? Boy:    Yes – the people who want to get involved, they’re involved. It’s not a case of being dragged into it. It’s if you want to turn up then you can help     along.  Girl:    Because last year we did the child protection policy and sexual relationships policy, and we were involved in writing that with the working group. And we did that over a period of weeks and then we – well, once we got the final draft we then got parents to come in where we talked about it. Kath:    Very good. Girl:    The school council gets involved as well. People say what can happen. Kath:    And you feel you’re listened to, do you? Girl:    Yes. Girl:    … I’ve done a lot of work for anti bullying. We have like different people that go into different meetings, and then other people get involved with     meetings. But it’ll be those few people who really need it, and then everybody else just gets involved if they want.  Girl:    With school council one thing that we’ve tried to do this year is make sure that all pupils do get involved. Because a lot of it can be sat in the     tutor room there’ll be two representatives but that’s it. And nobody knows anything because there isn’t any communication. And we have a working     group at the top which are the prefects and myself and we talk about the main issues that have come up. And obviously you can’t have a meeting with everybody, because there’s like 80 of us. But then what we do is make sure we’ve got a system where it feeds back, because we have a house system. So we’ll have a school council meeting, then that will be fed back into the house meetings which they have with the representatives from each house. So there are four meetings going on. And then that represents back in the tutor room, so altogether everybody in the school hears about what’s going on, what decisions we’ve made. And then they get to put their input then and say what they want to happen, and it gets led back up then to the school council so that everybody gets their input. Girl:    The school council and the governors and the caretakers and people like that to try and actually get changes made.… We try and actually make stuff happen. Girl:    For example we had a problem with the toilets last year. Our school toilets we weren’t happy with, and there were that many complaints from people saying ‘Oh, the toilets are horrible.’ So instead of just sitting there discussing it we decided to do something about it. So we got a group of I     think it was about 40 of us and we went in on Saturday and we painted the toilets in the colour that we wanted to do and we put new locks on and we     put new soap dispensers and all the things that we wanted, put them in how we wanted it. But you know they weren’t brilliant because it wasn’t done very  properly. Then because we did that, because we showed that we were willing to do something like that, we’re willing to go in on Saturday and make the effort to  get them done, our headteacher then paid out £10,000 to get them all re-done and put stainless steel sinks in and everything. So it worked ultimately once we decided to do something. Boy:    And also we’ve now got benches which have been on the pupil council’s request list for absolutely ages. So it’s finally been granted and we’ve now got benches for you to eat outside as well as inside. Kath:    So what about the other schools here? Do you feel you were listened to? Boy:    Ours is the same, our school council – we do the same. Kath:    What have we got now? Boy:    I was just going to say we do have a school council but it’s been ages since we had the last meeting. I don’t think our stuff gets done. I don’t know  – the school council.   Kath:    So things are raised at school council and it just ends with that, does it? Boy:    No, I don’t know. I’m not in it.  Girl:    It can depend on what kind of people you’ve got, because you can have some people that will just talk about problems forever, and they’ll just carry on talking about them. But if you’ve got the kind of people that want to do something and are actually ‘Right, well come on, we’ve had the problem   now sort something out’, then it does help. Because if you have a group of school councillors that are all like ‘Right, we’ve got a problem. Solution? We don’t have one’, you spend months just     trying to think of a solution.  Girl:    I can understand where you’re coming from. We’ve had problems in the past. We said we wanted benches; we’ve been wanting them for ages and then we didn’t even get them. And then everyone thought it was just that the school council wasn’t doing its job. And we got people saying they weren’t doing anything, and we really had to push for it. But I think once we were actually given it, it was really good because everyone actually thought they might actually have done something.  Girl:    Some people are good because they go to the governors and tell them everything we want, and then eventually we do get them because we have prefects who always do what we ask them to.  Girl:    So at our last meeting we said we wanted a change in uniform. So now we’re planning a change in uniform and we’re doing the designs at the moment. Boy:    With ours, well, with the school council and trying to format that and everything it’s, well, not exactly a difficult time but then again it is.  Because the headmaster is now leaving. I don’t know when – I think it’s in April or whenever. But he’s going so we don’t know who we’re getting. I don’t know whether the school council is going to benefit from this or anything. Kath:    The school council has not been invited to take part in any of the selection processes, have they? Girl:    We haven’t started. I don’t think any advertisements have gone out yet. I’m not really sure. Kath:    You perhaps need to volunteer yourselves, then, to be part of that.  Girl:    We had a new headteacher…. and then because of that he started to make loads of changes and he put in a whole house system and it kind of messed everything up that was already going on. So we had to rearrange it all and it took a while. But now it works really well, because we had to do it. And because we had to change it, we like made it so it actually works. Kath:    Do you see how the population of your school relates to the rest of Congleton, to the rest of Cheshire, to the rest of England and so on and so on? Have you been able to make more connections do you think through doing the global citizenship? Girl:    Yes, because you meet up with different schools and different people and you get to know them. And when other schools come to you for any kind of meeting or anything like that, you get to meet like on Healthy Schools, we’re part of Healthy Schools and we meet with everybody else in Healthy Schools. So it’s different schools basically are different, so you get to know different people. It does help. Boy:    And also you get to meet people through the Kenya link as well. We write letters out to the Kenyan school and we get letters in reply as well. So it’s sort of a chain going on. We’ve got a reverend who goes out there, goes out to Kenya and he takes the funding that we’ve raised for them out there and then he brings the letters that we get back. Kath:    So have any of your pupils exchanged with the people in Kenya? Boy:    Not yet, no.  Kath:    Is it planned, that? Boy:    There’s something in the workings, yes. They’re looking at getting some exchange done, yes. Kath:    Do any of your schools, have you been involved in any exchanges? Girl:    No. Boy:    We have a German exchange, and a French exchange. Boy:    What did we have? We had German and Spanish or whichever one we had. Boy:    There was a German one last year at our school. They do quite a lot of exchanges at our school, like Spanish ones. I think they do one every year or something. The different years do them.  Kath:    One other question says – which of the following have you learnt something about in this school – human rights? Have you done work on human rights? Boy:    Yeah, we have this thing called Respect and it takes over the lesson like each week. And we have learnt about human rights and animal rights. We were taught what we deserved and what children deserve and all that. Girl;    In RE we talk about how people have respect and stuff. Like racism and things like that. We have that like every week.  Kath:    There have been quite a lot of things in the media at the moment about how as a country we’re getting less and less respectful and not as nice to one another, not as polite.  Girl:    I was listening to this thing and it had like different qualities. It was quotes about these people who were talking about kids, and the first one said – I thought it was really bad – they said they’re not respectful; they don’t listen to teachers and all that. And it was written in like 50 BC. And it was like exactly the same as what the modern quote was. So like you kind of learn about that kind of thing as well. Kath:    Do you do much work on anti-racist awareness? Boy:    Yeah, we’ve had some of that in Respect as well. We just had a look at how to look at each other as equal individuals rather than saying that one set of people is better than another set of people or worth more. Girl:    We’ve got loads of assemblies about racism as well. Like when Ms Dawes or the headteacher takes it and tells us everyone deserves an equal place. Because we have like different people from different places in our school. Girl:    In RE we’ve been watching a video about this boy who had Down’s syndrome and how people like thought then before they met him and stuff. And they got to know him. Because his parents said that they thought that Down’s Syndrome people were like stupid and things, and then they had one and they just had a whole different thought about it.  Kath:    Well it’s the individual, isn’t it? You know, you’re not a Down syndrome person. You’re a person who happens to have Down syndrome. And like the rest of us they’re all different, aren’t they. Boy:    I don’t think we did – we might have done something about integration. But going back to the human rights, like you were saying recently the media having these corporals and lance corporals of the Royal Fusiliers court-martialled about the Iraqi prisoner thing. I was looking at the paper and apparently these two lance corporals, both in their early 20s, they pleaded guilty of assaulting this Iraqi prisoners and they’re facing being stripped of their rank, up to two years in prison and being dishonourably discharged from the British Army.      And following the two, a couple of corporals are facing – if they are to be found guilty or plead guilty – likewise being stripped of their ranks, six months to two years in prison, and being dishonourably discharged again. So apparently that’s about human rights and everything. But apparently some of the generals, high officers were saying that the photos were not true. But it’s like the American case with that female soldier assaulting the other Iraqi prisoners. She was found guilty and she was dishonourably discharged so I don’t know what the heck it’s giving, whether it’s all for the oil and George Bush is leading it and everything. Kath:    What about the United States? The sort of world pollution aspect. I mean they won’t sign up, will they, to reduce the emissions and everything.  Boy:    Well, the size of a country they are they create a lot of dangerous emissions. They’re one of the world’s main causes of pollution. Kath:    It’s about 40%, isn’t it? Boy:    Yes. Boy:    After the 9/11 incident, apparently for the next week or however long it was, all of Los Angeles and New York and everywhere like that, Chicago, the planes stop running for emergency causes. And apparently for that week or few days America was the clearest place on earth just because they stopped the planes. And they won’t sign up because they’ve got all these nuclear places that create all the power. Then again it’s a big country.  Girl:    We did this thing once where you had to fill in, you have different amounts of points for each thing that you do. Like if you go on holiday on a plane then it’s like 100 points or whatever, and if you like recycle it’s like -2000. And you get the eventual amount of points. And I had like 600, and it said – and at the end we were all told that if everybody stayed to 100 or less then it was sustainable but if it was over 100 then it wasn’t, and there was too much pollution. And everyone had like 600, and it kind of like shocked everybody because it was like they were things that you just kind of immediately go in for. Boy:    In science Mrs Hardwick was telling us about global warming and global dimming. Apparently with global dimming you’ve got these little crystals that are in the Earth’s orbit and they stay there. And what happens is because the Sun’s rays, they’re reflected back. And then you know all about global warming, the ice caps and everything. So apparently all that is the effect of not recycling and dangerous emissions and stuff. Kath:    But if we’re thinking globally I mean it what way could a country that’s so powerful as the States, how could they be made do you think to take more responsibility? Boy:    That’s the problem. They’ve got such military power that most people are quite scared of crossing them or challenging them. Because they are at the moment the world superpower, supposedly. No-one really wants to turn against them. Even the EU are sort of stepping back from the Americans and letting them get on with what they want to get on with. It just doesn’t seem quite fair that they can get away with all this dangerous emissions and still have such a high rank in world trade. They’re getting away with far too much at the moment. Kath:    So you think that the American people are quite happy to be in a position of such power? Girl:    …. It’s not about who’s got power, because in the end if we destroy the planet we destroy the planet, no matter who’s in charge of it. So I think it’s just about not realising how much damage they’re doing. Maybe if they just knew, if they saw the Scandinavian rainforests where acid rain is falling, if they saw the damage that it was causing, if they saw the pollution then maybe then they’d stop and think. Kath:    So more education. Boy:    With the dangerous emissions, I was watching this programme and apparently you know they’re building nuclear warheads and everything. Apparently that produces a lot of all the dangerous emissions. And like somebody said, they don’t want to cross the Americans because they think that they’ll just launch a nuke at them. Well as if they’re going to do that, you know. They don’t – George Bush doesn’t want – George Bush would be too scared to press that little red button and go bang, as far as I can see. He wouldn’t want to push that red button to send up a nuke, because then all the countries will go against him. Boy:    He’s got a nice big target for everyone to aim at, doesn’t he? Kath:    Have you done much about prejudice and discrimination? Boy:    Yeah, we’ve just finished doing that as a Respect unit as well.  Kath:    Right. So that’s covered what sort of prejudices? Boy:    Inequality within races, and also looking at disability and whether that lowers the social status of a person. There were a couple of stories in the textbooks you get. One coloured person was on a train and bought a first class ticket, and the train conductor came up and said ‘Sorry sir, you can’t sit there’, and sent him back to normal seating even though he had a first class ticket, because he’d had previous bad experiences with coloured people mugging other people to take their ticket. It’s showing how people use other people as an image that everyone else is like that, when everyone’s individual, they have their own way of doing things. Girl:    We never covered things like positive discrimination. I was talking with a science teacher the other day about it, because he’s the one that taught me for Respect. We were talking about this law that says you have to have like a certain number of people from ethnic minorities in a company, and that you have to employ them. We were saying that’s like positive discrimination, because it’s seen that they can’t get a job on their own – which they can. You know, anybody can get a job, we’re all equal.      And we didn’t cover that, and I think it was a bit unfair because when we came out a lot of people were saying all these things were good and they weren’t really thinking …. Kath:    There was a lot of positive discrimination ….. Pause Kath:    I felt the discussion is ongoing about corporal punishment. It was the headteacher in a Christian school. He wants to have the right to use corporal punishment in school.  Girl:    I think in private schools it was a lot later on when private schools weren’t allowed to use corporal punishment than comprehensive schools.  Kath:    Yes, they were a law unto themselves really.  Girl:    We have like a thing with the prefects like they’re not allowed to touch anyone on purpose. But they are allowed to put their arm out, and then if somebody goes into their arm. It’s really dodgy because then …. and it’s really, really scary because you’re not allowed to touch them and you’ve got to be really careful. And there’s like really dodgy rules about it. And then if anybody would just walk off, even when you hadn’t touched them at all, you’d just sent them out, and walked off and said that you’d hit them or something. It was like a real battle just to kind of keep saying that you hadn’t and that nothing else had gone on here, you’d just sent them out. It was really hard to just keep like calm when they’re there accusing you of stuff and you haven’t done anything. Kath:    So it gives you some insight into how teaching staff must feel as well. Boy:    I was reading and watching this programme about this private school, and what they’d done is they’d gone back into like the 1950s style with a matron and all that stuff. And what they weren’t allowed to do is they weren’t allowed to use the cane or anything, because apparently since the 1990s they weren’t allowed to use it because of these new laws. So the punishment was to then hold some heavy weights and go and sit in a classroom on your own. So that’s all changed.  Boy:    Is that the one that was on TV? Boy:    Yeah, ages ago now. They had like this red uniform thing. Kath:    So it was just making them uncomfortable, was it? Boy:    Yes.  Girl:    In our school council we’ve been thinking up different punishments. Kath:    Says she with glee. Girl:    We were saying that your punishment should fit your crime. And we were saying that if you were messing about, you should have to like serve people or something. …     And then once, I can’t remember – it was in … and these two boys had been messing about so they had to serve all the buddies. They had to come and give service and wash up all the plates and stuff as a punishment because they were messing about.  Kath:    I hope you made sure they washed their hands and everything before they served you food. Boy:    You could beast them like they do in the army – make them do loads of press-ups and send them on runs with a lamp post. That’s what you end up doing in PE though. You end up doing like 200 laps around the track. Lamp post, go. And for rugby we’ve got an old drill sergeant who takes us, so if anyone looks at him everyone ends up running the length of the campus…. Kath:    What sorts of punishments do you have in your school? Girl:    Detentions.  Kath:    Detentions. So you’ve not got into more creative sorts of things? Girl:    We have an inclusion room, and if you’ve been like really bad you just go in there with the teacher and do a load of work.  Boy:    We’ve got like this thing called smart start detention as well, where if you like forget a pen you have to have a detention, or if you’re late or if you do anything wrong you’ve got a detention at my school. Girl:    Well no, because it’s – we have a code of conduct which is all the things, like you have to have the right equipment. And at the beginning of the year you and your parents sign the code of conduct saying that you’re willing to keep this code of conduct for the whole year. So you do have a choice whether you want to keep it or not.     So then if you don’t have the right equipment then the teacher has the right to give you a detention because you said that you would. Kath:    So what’s the length of a detention? Girl:    20 minutes. Boy:    10 aren’t they? Girl:    10. Girl:    We sort of wound up letting them go, because people get them so frequently. There’s like people that have got like hundreds of them. Kath:    So it’s in your lunchtime, is it, you have a detention? Girl:    Yes.  Girl:    It’s really easy to get them, because all you have to do is like forget a pen. It really is that easy, if a teacher decides to check and you haven’t got a pen. It’s an easy mistake to make, but if you haven’t got a pen or if you’ve just forgotten the reading book. Boy:    With ours we’ve had some recent changes. This year our detentions are not after school any more because apparently we’ve had a lot of complaints from parents saying, ‘Why on earth do they have to stay back?’ which seemed quite sensible. But now ours has been changed to a lunch time. I think it’s only for lateness you get one on Friday afternoon/evening or whatever you want to call it until four. Boy:    We’ve got this weird system. It’s like the consequences system.  Boy:    C1 is a verbal warning. C2 is a second verbal warning. C3 is detention at lunchtime.  Kath:    Like a red card sort of thing.  Boy:    Yes. I don’t really think it works. You’re better off just saying detention, go.  Boy:    C4 is isolation for one day. C5 is isolation, your parents are called in.  Boy:    I don’t think it does much because they’re still stupid.  Girl:    That’s what we have to do everything by.  Kath:    Oh, that’s your agreement is it? Girl:    Yes, and it tells you what you can get for everything. There’s loads of it.  Girl:    There’s also different subjects.  … Boy:    We also have the consequences system where it’s C1 to 5. C1 is where you get your name recorded. C2 is like where you get a five minute detention at break or lunch, to 10 minute on C3. C4 you get a letter sent home to your parents. And then C5 your parents come in to speak to the head, the head of department which lesson you messed in and the senior of the school. Kath:    So this is pretty common then, is it? Boy:    Yes. Girl:    You don’t get followed by ours though. Kath:    You don’t? Girl:    They don’t get followed by. Kath:    They don’t? Girl:    No. They might give you a C3 but you don’t get the 10 minutes detention.  Girl:    You can get away with it very easily. Girl:    It’s just a bit of pen on the board. Kath:    So they just sort of say ‘You’ve got a C3′ – Boy:    Yes, and they let you go. Girl:    You can get away with lots at our school, can’t you? Boy:    Yes. Boy:    Even though the people at our school do get detentions, they just think wow, a detention – yet another one. It’s dead funny I think. Girl:    We have a pupil database as well where if you get put on that quite a few times then you get a letter home or you get put on report which means that after every lesson the teacher has to write down how good you’ve been. And if it carries on then each time it gets put on your – it gets recorded on your file. Kath:    I’ve lost track now who was next. Who was next?  Girl:    We have a red and yellow card system. So it’s all done on computer, all our registers and everything. So we have if you get – if you’re like told off in a class or something you might get a warning, which is just basically you’ve been told off and it just goes on the system in your file. And then you can get a yellow card which is a lunchtime detention. And also if you don’t attend a smart start you get a yellow.      And then a red card is an after school detention. So you might get it for like if you’ve forgotten coursework then they might give you a red card because it’s important so they’ll give you a red card and you have to have an after school detention.      And then we have internal exclusion which is where you go, you really can’t stay in lessons and you go for a day. Internal exclusion. You have to do all your work like that.  Kath:    So that’s been another route? Girl:    Yes – a separate route. Boy:    They’ve changed it now, actually. There’s a different colour card for missing coursework. They decided that red cards were too frequent because at the end of year 11 you get to go to a prom. But if you’ve had a red card at any time during that year then you can’t go to the prom. And they found it     was happening so frequently they were getting red cards for missing coursework, so people couldn’t go the prom. Girl:    … a smart start which you can get for forgetting a pen. So if you forget a pen the day before your prom you’re not allowed to go, which is pretty harsh.  Kath:    That happens? Girl:    Yeah. They said if you get one of these smart start detentions and you haven’t cleared it off before the prom, so you can forget a pen the day before and not go to the detention. Girl:    Yeah but it’s quite easy to clear though, isn’t it? Girl:    Yeah but if you don’t go to the detention. Girl:    Well some people just say ah, smart start, and just leave it until they’ve got like 30 that they need to collect.  Girl:    Your school sounds a trip compared with mine, because we have like monitors and you have to like – and in some classes if some teachers think that the classes aren’t that good you even have class monitors where you have to like say what’s happening in that class. But we get warnings as well for getting out of your seat as well.  Girl:    Yes, but you’re putting it in the wrong context. Yes but so say a teacher said right, we’re going to have five minutes of work where none of you are allowed to move. If you’ve got a question put your hand up, and then you get out of your seat, you’re going to be given a warning aren’t you?’ Girl:    Sometimes they don’t even say that. Sometimes like if you get up to get a pen for your friend she’ll go ‘Warning’ or ‘Yellow card’. Kath:    Which school are you? Girl:    Arkwright (?) Boy:    Seems you’re in the army.  Girl:    It is.  Girl:    It’s like a prison. Girl:    We’ve got fences around all our school. Boy:    Fences all around the campus and machine gun posts. Kath:    Do you feel safe there? Do you feel safe in your school? Girl:    No, because it takes like 10 minutes to walk in through the building from standing like that well away from the fence on one side. There’s like one entrance into the building. Girl:    Because there are all spikes across the top as well.  Girl:    They installed these fences, and then a few days later some ex-pupils just walked into our classroom. We were on the first floor. They just walked in, come up the stairs and gone into our classroom, and they just walked in to say hi to the teacher in the middle of our lesson and nobody had stopped them.  And yet we’re meant to have all these sensors.  Girl:    They don’t do anything.  Girl:    Exactly. You can just walk in. Boy:    …. We all saw the reports this year where each pupil has its own mentor which is like a senior member of the staff in school. And they have like one to like three people, and yet if you’ve a yellow report card you’ve got to see the mentor in the morning at break and at lunch and after school.      Yeah, and you also get yellow cards which write down everything that happens that lesson – if you’ve been good, done the work or not. And then if they haven’t it gets sent off to the head. Kath:    So like a report? Boy:    Yes. Girl:    We have ICT detentions as well where like the ICT teachers keep you behind to do ICT if you’ve not done enough. You actually have to stay behind and do your ICT before you can go.  Kath:    They just don’t use it as much? Girl:    Well, they do given the occasion. They can’t – they give you 24 hours. Because they’re only allowed to keep you 10 minutes because of people getting buses and stuff. So you do get a letter home. Girl:    It’s ridiculous because if you’re in one building, because our school is two buildings. Boy:    And they’re five minutes walk away from each other.  Girl:    So it’s about a five minute walk. So if you’re in one building, the buses go to the West building and if you’re in the East building and the teacher wants to keep you behind 10 minutes because we finish school at 3.15. They’re allowed to keep you until 3.25, but then the buses leave at 3.25. But then you don’t have any time to walk over. So like loads of people miss their buses if they have to be kept back behind for 10 minutes. And sometimes the teachers do it because like they just haven’t got through the work in a lesson. Some teachers – well, I won’t name any names – but some teachers do talk quite a lot, they don’t get the work done, and then people miss their buses. Kath:    Which will be very problematic for some people, wouldn’t it?  So going back to extending it to more global things, from what you’re saying you’re told clearly what the rules are. You know, whether you agree with them or not they’re very clear. Do you think that is fair? Is that how things work well? Together: Yes. Girl:    You need to know exactly what you’re allowed to do and what you’re not allowed to do. Because some people don’t know right from wrong. You know, there will be some people that really don’t know that, I don’t know, doing something like sliding down the stairs or something like that is wrong. They’ll think it’s just a bit of a laugh, so they need to know what the rules are. Kath:    Yes, it needs to be clear. Girl:    Some of the rules a lot of people in our school don’t agree with. Something like getting a detention for just forgetting a pen is a little bit extreme, and then not being able to go to your prom is a little bit extreme. But a lot of them are really quite sensible, because it does protect you. Like if you’re in a lesson. There was somebody who was throwing something in a lesson and he was kicked out of the lesson. It does make you feel a lot better.  Girl:    One of the things that I actually really do like in school is because the senior members of staff like the heads of each of the houses, they work a lot with each of the students. They come right back into the students. And like with problem students, like people who are bullying, they’ll go in personally and they sort it out. So it doesn’t really go through the system because it’s more personalised than that. So if there is a problem then they can say you’re taken out of this lesson, because you’ve bullied in the class, and we’ll put you into a different class. And they do it a lot more personally. It’s not really done through the system as much. Boy:    I think for every school they have a different set of rules, because they might have different people there or because I don’t know, because one is slightly better at some of the academic things. Their school might sound really pat, but you’ve got to get used to every school, every different type of disciplinary section.     So in a way you might have a weaker school and you’ve got a stronger one. It’s not really my concern with jobs, but it might be with every different job you might have a higher disciplinary section. Like with the Army you get beasted.  Boy:    Our schools are sometimes strict, but it is making things better because there is less people always being naughty now. Because the class is like – there’s hardly any more teachers losing their rag during lessons.  Girl:    Because there’s like stuff to protect you, and also if it gets too loud they’ll obviously get other people in to help and stuff like that. It really does make a difference. Boy:    And looking at other schools in the area especially like when you go off to play rugby against other schools you get to see their schools. And compared to their schools, our school is really quite graffiti free, very well kept from vandals. Because of all the security that’s gone around the school we now seem to be able to keep a lot of it outside of the school area, which makes it a better environment to actually work in. Kath:    So have you looked at how things work like the council, the police force, fire brigade and such? Girl:    Through our school we got involved in the UK Youth Parliament. It was something that we heard about at a Healthy Schools meeting and we took it back to our school and the information got sent to our school. And they actually came in and told us about it. I think it was me and Sophie and two other people from our school. We went and actually took part in the election process and we went on the residential with all the other people round mid-Cheshire.  And then two people on that residential were selected to stand, but even though we didn’t get elected we still took part. So then we went to the election day. It was all of Cheshire. We got to see how the election process went and how all the votes came in, because all the different schools voted.  Our school was one of the polling stations. And how the different schools got involved. All the votes came in on computer and some came through the post and stuff like that.     And then like now even we got the person that was elected, she’s now our MYP – member of youth parliament. But we’re still involved in the group, in the working group. So we still go out to different – so we’re involved with the county council of Rudeath – the Rudheath Youth Centre.  Kath:    So even though you weren’t elected you still have got a role. Girl:    Yes, we’re still part of it. And like at the moment we’re doing the Twilight Scheme questionnaires, and so we’re taking that back into schools now and going round and getting questionnaires. And then they’ll give us a paper of where young people hang out in the evenings and at the weekends, so that the Twilight Scheme can find more activities for them to do and find different places where they can go to make their lives better. Girl:    Some time last year in Tutor – which is when you have a form – we had a policeman come in to explain about drugs and things like that and underage taking of drugs and stuff and smoking. And we had it in year seven as well. And just explaining what it’s like and stuff. Kath:    Was it interesting? Girl:    Yes. Boy:    We had the community safety co-ordinator come into the school, and we did an exchange of skills day where the elderly in the community came into school one afternoon and we got a group of pupils from the school. We went to the session and we exchanged skills with the elderly. Like we played musical instruments and we taught them how to play them. And they shared their stories to us and their hobbies and interests. Kath:    Very good. Boy:    Four boys from our school made a video with the police for going on, playing chicken on the railway track.  Boy:    We had an unfortunate incident at our school. It was all over the national news. We’re not exactly sure what he was doing but he was messing around on train tracks and he had both his legs removed. Boy:    Train surfing he was playing. Kath:    Oh dear. Obviously he’s no legs, but is he okay apart from that? Boy:    Apart from that yeah. He has been round the school a few times.  Girl:    He’s back in school now. He has one artificial leg. He’s still in a wheelchair but he can use crutches.  Kath:    So he was messing about, was he? Girl:    Yeah. It was a group of guys just playing train surfing on the track, and he got trapped. But since that incident we’ve had councillors come in and talk to like the group of boys that were with him. And so we found out the information about it. You know, we shouldn’t do it, stuff like that.  Girl:    He’s doing really well, and the whole school got behind him. We raised money. Boy:    We raised money to buy him a laptop. Girl:    So he could do the work and also to contact his friends. We all got behind it so that it could be like  a group effort from everyone. Boy:    Not that long ago I heard about him from some of the people at school. There was an evening where someone came in for some people at the school and told them that these people were just meeting some of the students. And someone came in and told them all about different types of drugs and stuff. How to recognise them and stuff.  Kath:    Right. Boy:    I don’t think we’ve had any police officers or anything. But – Kath:    Wasn’t it the police that did the drugs? Boy:    I don’t know, because we didn’t do it in our year. But we haven’t had anybody come in and talk about drugs or anything, have we? Have you two? Girl:    Yes. Girl:    I think we had like a Northern guy come in and tell us about crimes and stuff.  Kath:    Yeah, but he was telling you more about crime than his role? Girl:    He was like a retired villain. Kath:    Oh right. Have you done anything on the United Nations? Any United Nations work? Boy:    We did something on it. We’ve just looked at how our parliament works and how the parliament of the EU works and the UN and just the structure that goes through to get any cases forward or anything like that.  Kath:    Have you done anything on the UN? No? It says asking about taking part in local issues, national issues and international issues. Well, you’ve already raised multiple national and international things. Girl:    The environment’s quite a big thing. We had a day where we got primary schools from the surrounding area and the high school and we all went down to – because we’ve got like a river down by the back of our school. So we went down there and we were doing just like looking at the environment and we were planting bulbs and trees and stuff. And then we had David Bellamy. He came and did a talk at our school about the environment and stuff and about wet plant matter, about what it was and stuff, and how we could help the environment. So that was something we call got involved in. Kath:    Very good.  Boy:    What did we do? Oh yeah, we did a buy a cow for a Ugandan family. Boy:    If they send the cow, Dave, then – well, we all raised money to get some cows for families. Boy:    Yeah. Somebody suggested Margaret Thatcher. And we also did a tsunami concert thing. All the years raised about £4,000.  Boy:    The concert, the tsunami appeal. Boy:    It was a sitting in between project for the village in Indonesia. So some of the money raised was donated.  Girl:    Heather does loads of concerts for our school. She raised money for charity but she doesn’t want to say anything.  Kath:    What do you do? Girl:    The last two years I’ve done a Children in Need concert. It was just basically different pupils around the school, and they were doing musical and drama and dance. And it was just an evening where we raised money for Children in Need. Kath:    So the idea was yours? Girl:    I organised it. So last year I raised £360 and the year before I raised £350.  Kath:    Well done. Well done you.  Boy:    We’ve done something like the same with the environment. We took a group of year eight and year seven pupils out to Griffiths Park because it was like being built at the time, and we planted some bulbs and everything around the park. And because we heard that it was being smashed up and graffiti’d everywhere, another group of year nine students went out and cleaned up Griffiths Park so it’s safe for the rest of the public to use.     And we also created a piece of artwork, the dandelion, which is sat at the top on the hill. And our school’s created that, and it’s been sent up and that’s on Griffiths Park. Kath:    And has the vandalism been reduced since? Boy:    It has been reduced since, yes. Kath:    Good. So how are we doing for time? It’s half past. What time did they say we had to finish?  Girl:    Three, I think. Girl:    We got told we were leaving at 3. Kath:    I thought somebody had to go at 2.45, didn’t they? Right, is there anything else? I’ll just briefly go through these questions. I think we’ve covered most of it. Has anybody got anything else they really need to say? Boy:    Well we’ve got the duty prefect thing which year eights get to do. It’s where you spend like the whole day and you don’t do any of your lessons, but you just like sit on the desk and do jobs and stuff for teachers and visitors. And you can like get to know, you can talk to the teachers on like an average level. And you have to like keep a record of all the things you’ve been doing. Kath:    So like a teacher would ask you to do whatever? Boy:    Yeah.  Girl:    Well it’s different. It’s done with all year eights. It’s done alternatively, so it’ll be two year eights one day a week; a different pair the other day. It’s done and they get a certificate for doing it. You know, because it’s service to the school.  Kath:    Yes. So what do you get out of it then? You get on a level with the teachers more? Boy:    Yes. You have to get organised though, because you have to like have all these letters and everything set out for the teachers and you have to record everything you’ve done every time. So it just does your head in. Kath:    So it’s not a doddle then? Boy:    No, it’s not easy.  Boy:    We have the same thing but ours is called the pupil helpdesk, the reception. So we have the reception, but some teachers call it the horsebox because it’s shaped like a horsebox. So then when visitors and the teachers come in, they run the errands like all the photocopying from the AV bank, run it all to the teachers so they don’t have to go to the AV and collect it themselves. Kath:    Not sure about the horsebox. It doesn’t sound like something you want to be put in, does it.  Okay, is there anything else? Well thank you very much. You’ve all been really helpful. Does anybody want any more chocolate?

Students from the following schools took part in the discussion:

Eaton Bank School, Hartford High, Congleton High, Rudheath

This work © Oxfam GB, Save the Children UK and UNICEF (UK), 2007. Part of the Developing Citizenship project.

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