And in 2010: Going under
Extracts from interviews conducted in 2010 with twenty students, aged between 11 and 15, who had transferred to Sands School, Ashburton, because of their experiences at other schools.
'I just thought that the numbers at my last school were too big, and I felt really insignificant. And you didn't have any say in what was happening in the school, I didn't really feel that I had any say in my education.'
'I basically thought I was trapped in a place with so much rules and regulation that no one could be themselves and no one could have a personality really with them. Everything that you did that made you yourself was taken away from you.'
'With me it was the teachers, really, a couple of them were nice but then they only had their moments of being nice . . . You were never treated as an equal, always getting told what to do and just not in a friendly environment, really.'
'I was always pressured to do things with music and drama and sport at the same time as I was supposed to be doing my academic work, so the
pressure of having to catch up on every single little thing I'd missed in class and at the same time represent the school for different areas, just felt like so much, and if they really wanted me to represent the school in other ways they should understand that I can't always deal with the pressure of the workload, so I was always spending my lunchtimes and breaktimes in detention, catching up on all the work I missed, representing the school.'
'Was it sensible to rebel at that school?'
'Well, in my eyes it was sensible, because I really didn't believe in conforming to the rules that they put in place, but I guess that it really is sensible at a school like that to just keep your mouth shut because you're never going to get a say in what you want. It's always going to be – you're always just going to be basically put down by the teachers and higher authority figures in the school and so whatever you say it isn't going to have an impact on the school.'
'What happened in break times?'
'I can't really remember. We'd go out into a concrete little bit of playground and I had one or two – well, I had one best friend. That was pretty much it, and if she went off to play with someone else then I was all on my own.'
'Do you remember the punishments?'
'No, because I was generally quite well-behaved so I didn't end up getting punished.'
'So you hated it even though you were well behaved and successful in lessons.'
'Yeah, yeah, I think so.'
'So even being well-behaved and successful in lessons didn't make the school a nice place to go?'
'No, not at all, it was still horrible. Both in taught lessons and outside of lessons.'
'Did you want to rebel yourself?'
'No, because I was very much a – what's the word? – I don't know, I definitely didn't want to get into trouble. I managed not to get into trouble, I just, you know, didn't get detentions or anything, but I sort of went under. I felt like I couldn't be myself, I really couldn't be myself, and I was completely almost being swept up with the class, because it's just like sheep. It's like a factory, it doesn't allow individuals to blossom at all.'
'Was it a state school?'
'It wasn't a state school, it was private, but still it got the system.'
'Was there anything you liked about that school?'
'Nothing. There was hardly anything good except a few children had banded together.'
'Was there anything you liked about the school?'
'Yes, the lunches. That was the only good thing.'