Many different people have been at presentations by the students of the Learning School. Here a few of them describe the impact it had on them.
Professor Jean Rudduck, University of Cambridge
Never underestimate young people! I am constantly writing variations on the same theme: that schools have changed less in the past twenty years or so than students have changed. School improvement is not just about enhancing grades; it is also about updating structures and ways of relating so that there is a better fit between schools and students. New structures create opportunities for new ways of seeing and valuing the capabilities of young people today and they can open up spaces in which those capabilities can be exercised in support of learning.
Young people in school have been described as 'uneasy stranded beings' and as 'inadequately socialised' beings. The historian, Ariès, said that being in school was like being in quarantine, in a limbo world that still reflects early cultural assumptions of childhood and control and where it can be difficult for young people to demonstrate their maturity and make constructive use of the breadth of their out-of-school experience.
Increasingly, schools are seeing the logic of the link between students' commitment to the school's purposes and practices and their being respected as young adults, listened to and being taken seriously.
The presentation that I heard in Cambridge a few months ago is a good example of just what young people can achieve when trusted with a task that is 'for real'. What struck me - and I doubt whether my reaction is different from anyone else's - was how much they had learned. First, about research: research design, selection of informants, ethical issues, observation techniques, interviewing, analysis and interpretation of data. Then, equally important, was another kind of learning: the ability to work in pairs and as a team, and to work patiently and courteously with a range of participants.
These things I gathered from the retrospective accounts given at the seminar, but during the presentation itself I witnessed the confidence and poise of the young people, each doing their bit of a connected whole - and, remember, most