My life

A 15-year-old girl describes how her views are being ignored at school by teachers she feels are oblivious to pupils’ needs.

“You do not have an opinion, you don’t have the right to one. When you’re 18 and you’re an adult that’s when you can have an opinion”. That’s what a senior teacher in my school told me two weeks ago.

In my school there’s a big focus on anti-bullying; an anti-bullying team has been running for more than two years and from what I’ve been told is effective. But there doesn’t seem to be any focus on the bullying of students by teachers. At school I constantly feel ignored even though I’m on the school council. At school council meetings issues discussed revolve around things like repainting the toilets and what food should be served in our lunchrooms. Recently, at a meeting, I asked about what was being done about the constant racist comments of some students towards each other. I have experienced a lot of prejudice recently as I have started to become more open about my Jewish heritage.

The teacher running the meeting said that it was a different issue that had to be discussed separately, outside of school council meetings. I didn’t understand. I felt stupid. Later, I approached the teacher and he still didn’t want to talk about anything with me and kept avoiding me. Whenever any student expresses an opinion that might bring up a controversial issue teachers just don’t want to know. Having a school council is brilliant if all issues that kids care about can be discussed. But what tends to happen is that we are consulted only on topics that the teachers choose.

Children and teenagers have opinions just as valid as any adult’s. I don’t want to wait until I’m 18 to be listened to. My feeling of alienation in school has grown over the last two years, to the point where I feel I can understand why children give up on school. Obviously not all teachers are like this. Several of my past teachers made me feel respected and heard. Sadly, it is these very teachers who have felt uncomfortable enough, within the new school ethos, to leave. The fact that I had those teachers has been an inspiration to me and I know that things can be different.

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