I recently had the pleasure of interviewing two local school students to discuss their impartial and unbiased opinions on the education system and public schooling. Both pupils were open to speaking on the matter from a refreshingly honest perspective, speaking up about friendships, career choices, teachers and the opportunities and limitations they have faced while in the system.

I asked both students how their school has helped to support them in order for them to achieve their future goals, student A told me “It has helped me mold what I like and what I don’t like and what I can consider to do in the future, like GCSE options. We pick four that we actually want to do.” Student B also agreed that whilst your subject options were refined to your preferences, there was still the matter of limited support and subject choices. "At some points they (teachers) do help, I just had a lesson where it was really helpful -about banking- but mostly they teach you stuff that you won’t use even in the GCSEs that you pick. Speaking of GCSEs, they don’t have that many options. In the sixth form, they do a lot of art and photography, when it should be more about business and money because that’s how the world works.”

Asides from what their school in some respect lacked, I asked the pupils if their experience in the education system had so far been a positive one. Both students shared a common positive of creating concrete friendships. Student A’s response was that she has ‘met friends which she will probably have for life’ and that “A lot of the time when you are actually learning, being around people, it’s a positive environment.” Yet student A agreed more support could be given, “A lot of teachers do not bring us to our full potential. I think people who have disabilities and dyslexia are not aided enough by teachers. For example, if I’m in English -and there are people who all have different abilities- teachers go at a pace which doesn’t cater to everyone.” Student B agreed, “I guess I have had a positive experience, I have made friends for the rest of my life. It is mainly the teachers, they think they know what we’re doing right now when really they didn’t have the same education. They believe certain lessons and the homework load is easy but that is the perspective of a teacher.” Student A further went to say “They need to teach us about life. Having that understanding is important. I think there should be longer or more of the personal development lessons because they are really beneficial.”

I then asked the pupils about their thoughts on private schooling, from the perspective of a public school student. Student B said, “I think private schooling is a terrible idea. People have to learn how to socialize, it seems you don’t learn the same stuff as public school, I mean it could be better because your parents are paying for it.” Although she explained that at public schools “the teachers say you need to learn things because it is in the test, not because you need it”.

To round off my interview with the students I enquired them as to what career they would like to pursue when they are older. “I’m doing product design,” Student B said, “So I consider engineering and practical stuff. I want something to do, something moving- because no one wants to sit around all day. I want to do something fun, something I enjoy. You can’t just become an actor for the money, you have to do it because you want to do it.” Student A while not entirely sure of which career path she is headed said, “I have ideas but I don’t fully know what I want to do when I’m older. I think, going back to school, a lot of the things that we do (acting, drama) are a lot of writing. Acting is physical, you perform, but a lot of it is just writing.”

Both pupils had some final messages for anyone attending secondary school or soon to, Student A said, “Find something that you really like. If your parents want to sign you up for a club, try it because you could spark up an interest. Do what you love to do.” Student B agreed and stated, “Take one major life decision at a time because backing out off it will take a lot of work.” My overall experience with the pupils was eye-opening and it was a pleasure to receive their honest, first-hand opinions surrounding the education system.

Poppy Jackson, Waldegrave school