Professor Kenneth Muir was asked by the Scottish Government to do a consultation on education reform for Scottish Government.

Then the Scottish Government asked Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament, and Together to involve children and young people in this consultation. We developed toolkits and an online survey. We had a fantastic response.

1210 primary school aged children
394 secondary school-aged children and young people
3889 12-to-18 year olds respondents online
School pupils holding books.

Professor Muir’s main report is called Putting Learners at the Centre: Towards a Future Vision for Scottish Education and it is here.

We have created a summary report about it for 12 to 18-year-olds, accessed here.

The consultation report that Children’s Parliament, SYP, and Together can be read and downloaded here.


What primary school pupils told us

If you want to know what primary school pupils told us about school and learning, below is a special report on their feedback.

1,210 primary-school-age children took part in discussions. We told Professor Muir everything that they told us.

The rest of this webpage contains a shorter version of our longer report (above). We originally shared this page to give participating children an idea of what other children from across Scotland are thinking about their education. We share it here now, in the hope that it is useful for your deeper understanding.


What children did

We asked the childrens’ groups and classes to think about 14 statements. They didn’t have to talk about them all. The children were asked to say if they agreed or disagreed with the statement. They could also write in some comments. We explained that there were no right or wrong answers. It’s what children think that matters.

The first 7 statements that children talked about have quite complicated language! The reason we used these statements is that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says this is what children’s education should help them to do. If a child is learning about children’s rights at school, they will see that it says these things in UNCRC Article 29. In this report, we will call these the children’s rights statements.

So, we wanted to know: Do you agree or disagree that you learn about these things when you are at school….

1. My education helps me to develop my personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential.
2. My education helps me develop respect for human rights and freedoms.
3. My education helps me to develop respect for my parents/carers, my cultural identity and language.
4. My education helps me to develop respect for other countries and peoples.
5. My education prepares me for a responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace and tolerance.
6. My education helps me to develop respect for the natural environment.
7. My education helps me to develop respect for the national values of Scotland.

Then there were another 7 statements. They asked children to think about if they agreed or disagreed with them too. They were more about whether children like learning and school and whether they have their say about their learning and life at school. In this report, we will call these the happy at school and having my say statements. They said:

8. My education meets my needs as a learner.
9. My education will help me to realise my goals.
10. I am involved in making decisions about my learning.
11. The views of children should be taken seriously when schools are inspected.
12. My school is good at using technology to support my learning and assessments.
13. I enjoy learning.
14. I enjoy school.

Part 1:
What children told us about the children’s rights statements

1. My education helps me to develop my personality, talents and abilities to their fullest potential.
2. My education helps me develop respect for human rights and freedoms.
3. My education helps me to develop respect for my parents/carers, my cultural identity and language.
4. My education helps me to develop respect for other countries and peoples.
5. My education prepares me for a responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace and tolerance.
6. My education helps me to develop respect for the natural environment.
7. My education helps me to develop respect for the national values of Scotland.

A majority of children, so that means more than half, agreed with all the statements. Here are some of the positive things that children said about school and learning.

Education helps my personality grow and allows me to get better at things and come out of my comfort zone.

I strongly agree because we have learnt about the human rights and freedoms, and you should never judge people by how they look.

My education helps me learn about different countries and what they are going through.
My friends and teachers encourage me to do things I didn’t think I could.

Respect is huge at our school.

COP 26 is very important to us. We love learning about our environment.
It teaches us what we shouldn’t do to other people to respect their rights. We learn about the rights of the child and create a class charter focusing on different articles.

When I disagree with people, I have learned to deal with this in a calm way that respects others.

But not everyone agrees that school is like this. Some people think that school helps with these things a bit, but not a lot. Maybe schools could do more.

PE does that, and I guess Maths and Literacy. I don’t think to your fullest potential, but I do think they help you get a wee bit better at certain stuff.

It would be good to learn much more about other countries.
Some people who like sport in PE show their personality, and who like writing also show their personality. But those who like drawing, dancing, singing, only get to show personality at break.

We don’t do enough about the environment at school.
We need to do more about racism and help people who don’t have enough money.

Teach more about climate change.

Other children said that school does not help them learn in the ways that they should according to UNCRC Article 29. So, we also heard these things:

I don’t get to show my proper personality at school. At home I would be louder and act different.

We need to learn about other cultures. We need to learn more languages.

I think we need to learn more about rights. My family told me things I never learned in school.
It’s like we have a home personality and a school personality.

There is still too much racism.

I want to learn more life skills and how to be a good person.
I learn respect from home, not school.

We need more clubs… I would like coding club.

One thing we heard from a lot of children was about whether school ‘helps me to develop respect for the national values of Scotland’. Most children knew what their school values were, but didn’t know what Scotland’s values might be. For example, this is what we were told:

I already respect Scotland. Does Scotland have values?
We know what the school values are but not the national values of Scotland.

Part 2:
What children told us about the ‘happy at school’ and ‘having my say’ statements

8. My education meets my needs as a learner.
9. My education will help me to realise my goals.
10. I am involved in making decisions about my learning.

A majority of children agreed with these 3 statements.
Children reported examples of choices they make and how they speak with teachers about their learning.

I get to talk to my teacher about what I’m good at.

We talk to teachers about our learning, we get to do feedback on ourselves and others. We sometimes get a choice.
I think my learning is at the right level because I can do it but it’s still tricky.
Sometimes my teacher gives me harder work to challenge me.

Some children said they wanted to have more say in what they learn, some wanted learning to be more challenging, some said that they get few choices.

If we’re choosing work, the teacher says ‘ah I think you can do that one’, so you don’t really get to choose.

Sometimes when we’re planning our day sometimes we get to choose but usually we don’t.
Sometimes I need trickier things to try.

It’s the adults that decide what we learn. That’s why it’s not fun.
We should do more where we chose the level we work at.

Children said that when they need help they can get it, but some said that not enough help was available. If you don’t get the help you need then your needs might not be met.

I agree because we always get help from our teachers and we set ourselves targets. If we get stuck an adult always helps us.

I disagree because I used to worry I would be made fun of.
I am dyslexic and I am really well supported in school.

It can be embarrassing to ask for help.
Teachers help me when I need help.

The teacher doesn’t always see my hand.

When children said things about education helping them to reach their goals they mostly thought this was about getting a job when they are grown up. We heard these things:

If your goal is to become a scientist, you might need maths and science, so education helps to achieve that.
When I grow up I want to be a fashion designer – art in school has helped me realise that.

Some children said their goals were about their whole life!

My goal is to live a good life.
Goals should be happiness, not exam results.
Yes, my life goals are to get a family and live a good life and get a job.  The school is helping me to do this.
11. The views of children should be taken seriously when schools are inspected.

Most children agreed that children should have a say when their school is inspected.

We are the people that are getting taught, so our voice is important and our feedback.

They need to pay attention to the children not just the teachers.

The inspectors need to find out information about the school from everyone in the school and the children’s opinions are very important.
I think children should be taken seriously because some schools might lie and you’ll never know what the real experience is unless you ask children.

We think they should talk to us because it is our school.
We think they should send out questionnaires for children to answer about their school as we know it best.

Children should be able to speak about their opinion and have freedom of speech.

Some children reported examples of how Inspectors get it wrong and need to do better.

I want to be noticed. Some people just come and stare at us for five minutes and then go.
I don’t think children should feel pressured if it’s not something they want to do.
I remember there was an Inspector in our class and he was just staring at me, and I looked round and he was staring at me.
12. My school is good at using technology to support my learning and assessments.

Children told us that technology plays an important part in their learning, this is a good thing, often a highlight. Technology can really help some learners.

That’s the only fun thing about school and class – using technology.

My iPad helps me capture memorable moments at school.

We have the school computers and they can help us make PowerPoints and put files together and do research.

Enjoy coding and using Giglets to do reading comprehension.

My school is extremely good at using technology in our learning.  We have Seesaw to record our learning and share with parents and in our class we also use Google Classroom, Teams, Glow, Blogs, Sumdog, Active learn, Readworks, Microsoft and Google tools every day.

Yes, because we have laptops we use all the time. and for writing and for literacy. We do Sumdog and Reading Wise and Education City and Cool Maths Games. Our iPads help with the clay model inspiration.   Garage Band helps you create music. My iPad and computer help me.

We do spelling on our Chromebook sometimes and it’s way better than writing it.
Technology increases your knowledge about the world. I have been making a PowerPoint about traditional clothes from around the world. My school let me present this to the class, so I was proud of my technology skills.

It makes some people calmer.

It can help with Maths, it can help with Literacy, it can help with most things that we learn.

Easier to edit which makes me more motivated.

Some children said they would like to see more use of technology for learning.

My talent is coding and I don’t get to do that.

We use them for image search and research, but we could use them for other things too. 
I think we could use it a wee bit more.
Sometimes they sit and don’t get used.

Children also identified problems with school technology. Connections can be bad. Or equipment is too old.

It kind of depends on how the technology is acting. Sometimes it freezes and crashes and sometimes it’s fine. It really depends on the technology, not the people using it.

Sometimes it doesn’t let me in the password.
Agree. But some of our school equipment is not very reliable and breaks down.

We use Google Classroom, Sumdog, laptops and computers. The Wi-Fi doesn’t always work which stops us learning.
My Chromebook keeps saying ‘please reconnect’ because I’ve got one of the old laptops.

We all have our own Chrome Book. We use them in lessons. Sometimes the internet is slow and it doesn’t work.
13. I enjoy learning.
14. I enjoy school.

Most children agree that they enjoy learning and school. There are also children who said there are areas for improvement.Children said they like learning when it is active, creative and they feel involved.

I like doing experiments. PE and Science are both fun and they are in our learning zones. I like art because you get to draw and paint. We don’t all get to paint at home.
I strongly agree because we get to learn about a lot of things and if we don’t learn things we won’t get into high school or college and get a good education.
We agree because teachers are trying to make learning more fun. We like learning in different ways. We like being active through games. We like using imagination.

For children a positive learning experience  should be ‘fun’. Some children have reported that learning is fun, for others this needs to be more of a focus for their learning.

It’s fun. There’s art. You get to see your friends here.

It should be more fun as you remember more when it’s fun.
When we have fun in learning it makes learning more enjoyable and we learn more.
We are always learning new things. Learning is fun in our school.

Children also highlight some things that happen that are the opposite of fun and creativity.

You get bad days and good days at school. Sometimes it can be really boring but sometimes it can be great.

It’s not a waste of time but… They do help you learn but they don’t help you understand it. They just give you a worksheet.
I know it’s important, but I don’t find it fun.
You know times tables? We’re doing add and then just times and nobody understands it. It’s really hard. Maybe if they explained it more simply. If somebody hides it in something we like instead of just plain learning that would be better; like we’re playing a game and you have to keep the score.

There are some things learners want more of. Some children said they need more support for learning and less pressure so they can enjoy school.

I think we need more P.E. and brain breaks.

Teachers should help us more with our individual needs and learning.
If you’re struggling with something like Maths, I’d like more time to finish off instead of moving on to the next thing.

Sometimes I don’t understand things. It hurts my brain too much.
Yeah, the one thing I don’t like if I’m doing Maths is having pressure put on me.

Children said the most important thing is the relationship between a teacher and a child. For some children, positive relationships are in place. For others, they are not.

The best type of teacher for enjoying school is kind, fun, good sense of humour, respectful, polite, safe, caring, helpful with your learning.

If you don’t understand, sometimes you get told off.
I really like my teachers.  My teacher likes to challenge me.  My teacher tells funny jokes.

Sometimes you get told… If you make a bad choice in the playground the teacher talks to you and you get sent outside for like two hours. That’s what happened to me once.
My teacher never asks if I enjoy learning.

Children also reported that sometimes they find school or learning hard.

School is tricky and challenging. Maths is hard.

I think our teachers really care about us, but they don’t always get it right.
People can be mean.

Sometimes the work can be enjoyable but there are a few people, I’m not going to say who, who bother me a bit and make me feel anxious.
Sometimes there are lots of arguments that happen in school.
Sometimes people can be bad, and it ruins everyone else’s fun.

There are also children for whom the return to school after Covid lockdowns has been difficult. Perhaps, some children have lost enthusiasm for learning and some have preferred home learning.

I like learning at home because I don’t like being out of my house.
I just don’t like it. I want to be learning at home not at school.
I don’t know why I just don’t like it. I miss my bed.

Our thanks go to everyone who took part in the following settings:

Airyhall Primary School, Aberdeen
Auchengray Primary, Auchengray
Banchory Primary School, Tullibody
Barr Primary and Early Years Centre, Barr
Barrhill Primary and Early Years Centre, Barrhill
Barthol Chapel School, Inverurie
Bell’s Brae Primary School, Lerwick, Shetland
Carnock Primary School, Carnock
Chapelton Primary School, Chapelton
Cleeves Primary School, Glasgow
Croftfoot Primary School, Glasgow
Croftmalloch Primary School, West Lothian
Crosshouse Primary, East Kilbride

Dalneigh Primary School, Inverness
Drakies Primary School, Inverness
Drummore Primary School, Drummore and Port Logan
Forces Children Scotland
Greenhills Primary School, East Kilbride
Haddington Primary School, Haddington
Heathery Knowe Primary School, East Kilbride
Innellan Primary School, Innellan
Kirktonholme Primary School, East Kilbride
Knockando Primary School, Aberlour
Mauricewood Primary School, Penicuik
Mount Cameron Primary School, East Kilbride
Park Primary School, Oban
Parklands School, Helensburgh
Port Ellen Primary School, Port Ellen

Rhunahaorine Primary School, Tarbert
Riverside Primary School, Stirling
Robert Owen Memorial Primary School, Lanark
Sandhead Primary, Sandhead
South Park Primary, East Kilbride
St John’s Primary School, Barrhead
St Mary’s RC Primary School, Haddington
St. Serfs Primary School, Tullibody
St Thomas RC Primary School, Keith
Stirling Pupil Parliament
Taynuilt Primary School, Taynuilt
Whiteness Primary School, Whiteness, Shetland


This consultation was managed by Children’s Parliament, Scottish Youth Parliament, and Together (Scottish Alliance of Children’s Rights). It was supported by Scottish Government.