Why can't mummy come too?

Can you show your face without a fluffy pencil case? Or a new pair of Nikes? Are you dreading the bully in the playground or looking forward to being able to spell? Lulu Le Vay talks to six children about their hopes and fears for the new school year
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The Independent Culture
Hannah Havlin, age 8

Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill

Have you enjoyed the holidays? What have you been up to?

The best day was when we went to Broadstairs. It was folk week and there was loads of music and tents. I got two Beenie Babies and we walked around a lot.

What's the worst thing that's happened during the holidays?

When I wasn't very well. I had a stomach bug and I couldn't go out.

Are you looking forward to going back to school now?

No. School's boring, we don't get enough breaktimes. I think we should do half-an-hour's work in the classroom, then go out for half-an-hour.

What would you rather be doing if you weren't going back to school?

Going to theme parks every day. Or on holiday to Australia.

There must be something about school you're looking forward to?

Seeing my friends is probably the only thing: Alisia, Karen, Rebecca, Laura, Amy, Lauren and Olivia and Chloe.

You've got a lot of friends. What sort of stuff will you be doing with them when you go back?

We play Disney things like Peter Pan, Snow White, Cinderella. We act out the characters. I'm usually Peter Pan. I like being boys when we play things. I'm bored of being a girl.

What is it about being a girl you're bored of?

Playing with Barbies and stuff. I prefer playing with Action Man, football and James Bond. Me and my friends are all tomboys.

Do you like the boys at school?

I suppose some of them are OK. I don't like playing with boys. I just like playing with girls with boys' things.

Do you like your school uniform?

I'd prefer to wear my own clothes. I prefer what the boys wear, but the girls aren't allowed to wear shorts or trousers.

What would you change about the school's uniform if you could?

I'd make everything camouflage.

What would the other girls like to wear?

They like really fancy dresses and pink flowery frilly stuff.

Would you like to change the way some of the teachers dress?

No, not really. I'd like to change some of the teachers, though. I'd replace them with people who are really kind and never shout at children.

Do you think the teachers have missed you?

No, I think they've been quite glad to get away.

Any subjects you're dreading going back to?

Maths.

What's the first thing that pops into your head when you think about school?

Boring.

Have you got any new stuff to go back to school with?

Not really. I've got a new skirt, shoes and cardigan, but I'd like a new furry pencil case.

Would it bother you if you went back to school with your old stuff from last year?

I'd feel a bit scruffy.

Would other kids be nasty to you?

No, they don't take any notice of any other pencil cases, they just think their ones are the best.

Have you got a favourite school object?

Well there's one thing I'm really really glad about. They give you your own ruler with your name on.

Adam Goodhall, age 10

Ibstock Place

What are you looking forward to most about going back to school?

Seeing all my friends.

Do you know lots of people at your school then?

I know a lot because some of them have been there since nursery. And I'm friendly with some of the seniors my brother knows as well.

What's it like having an older brother at the same school?

When you go near him he'll say "don't do that" or "go away".

Has he ever protected you?

One boy who was older than me started beating me up and my brother went over and told him to stop. But he says that he doesn't like me at all. He beats me up a lot at home.

What has been the best thing you've done during the holidays?

We went camping in France. We met some people and they had a mobile home thing which was like a big coach on wheels with Sky TV, leather sofas, oven, cooker and fridge.

What's been the most boring thing?

We went on holiday the day after we broke up, so all my friends were at home. And when we got back, they had all gone away.

Are you going to be starting any new subjects when you go back?

Yeah, I think we're doing, er... not design technology, Chemistry stuff.

When you think of school, what pops into your head?

Exams. The 11+ happens when we go back.

What else are you dreading about going back?

This boy who's really annoying. For a whole year he hasn't learnt how to be quiet.

What can a private school give you that other schools can't?

Better lessons and a bigger playing area; we've got woods, rugby pitches, a long jump pit and three cricket pitches.

What do your other friends think about you being at private school?

They don't mind. They're not like poor or anything, it's just that their parents sent to them to a school that only goes up to 12.

What's your uniform like?

Navy blue corduroys, top and jumper. You don't have to wear a tie until you're a senior.

Do you like it?

Not really. Sometimes it's not comfortable and the corduroys fade to grey suddenly.

No one would be nasty to you then?

No. That's why they have school uniform, so people don't make fun of other people, because they all look the same. Otherwise they would pressurise their mums to always get them new stuff.

If you could design a new uniform, what would it be like?

Baggy jeans and white T-shirts.

What's cool in school at the moment?

The girls like fluffy pencil cases made out of fake fur.

How do trends like that start?

One girl everyone likes will have one, then the others will go "Oh wow, you've got one, I'm going to have to get one now". There'd be enough to make a huge pile of fluffy pencil cases.

Do the boys like to have trendy things too?

No, they don't really have that. Last year there was a passion for Gap backpacks. I don't have one any more because I couldn't fit all my stuff in.

Do you think you've changed a lot since when you went back to school last year?

My teacher said I've improved on spelling. And I think I've got more confident.

Jessica Newberry, 5

Maple Infants, Surbiton

What are you going to miss most about your summer holidays when you go back to school?

Mummy, because I won't see her all day.

What are you looking forward to most about going back?

Seeing my friends. We run about, do head-over heels, cartwheels and go on the climbing frames.

Are there any children at school you're not looking forward to seeing so much?

The ones that are naughty, sometimes they hit people. I tell them to stop it.

Is there anything about school you don't like?

I don't like it when it gets noisy.

Can you remember your first day at school last year?

Yes. A bee stung me. It hurt. The teacher gave me a sweetie.

Do you think you've changed a lot since you started school last year?

Yes. I feel more grown-up. And I'm taller.

What are your school dinners like?

I like potatoes and cake. I eat it all up at school and I don't at home.

Do you think summer holidays should be longer?

Yes. They should be two years. Or maybe just one.

Wouldn't you get bored? How would you fill your time?

I would like to play and play. And I'd go to Phoebe's house, even though it's a long walk.

Kieran Johnson, age 15

Finchley Catholic High School

What have you been up to in your holidays?

I went to Florida and I've been helping out at my Grandfather's security company. It's harder than school - you get home knackered and go straight to bed.

What do you think of your school?

It's OK, it's a bit strict though with haircuts and uniforms. If you're not wearing white socks you get sent home.

Has that happened to you much?

Once when my haircut was too short. I had my head shaved this summer, so I've been growing it back.

Have you ever seen a kid being given a hard time because they didn't have new stuff for the beginning of term?

Yeah, people call them a tramp and stuff. But mostly they just do it to wind them up, just a bit of a joke.

Have you ever picked on anybody?

No, I do that to my brother when I get home.

Is he at your school?

He is going back into his second year, but he's like one of my friends. All my friends know him even though he's a lot younger.

You've got your GCSEs coming up this year. Are you worried about taking your exams?

Yes, it's a bit frightening.

What's your favourite subject?

Business Studies. I like learning about economic growth, demand curves and supply and demand.

You do a bit of modelling, will that not get in the way of your studies?

It could do, so I'll try and fit it all in at weekends, unless something really big comes along.

What's more important, exams or modelling?

Exams. Mum has talked to me about not throwing away my schooling at the moment.

Are most of the kids well behaved at your school?

Not really. There was one kid who got expelled because, during his work experience in a trainers shop, he nicked the keys and tried to break in.

Are you allowed to take your mobile phone into school?

No. I've had mine confiscated six times. People bring them in to show off really. Everyone tries to get everybody else in trouble by ringing their phones during classes.

Are you going to take your phone into school when you go back?

No. It's not worth it. I had mine confiscated for six weeks last time.

What else is a must-have for going back to school?

Mini-disc Walkmans and trainers. You're not allowed to wear trainers in school, but the kids wear them on the way in to show off, then change. I don't really see the point.

Are trainers important?

Fashion-wise definitely. I've got Nike Air Max (pounds 110).

So what happens to the kids who've got rubbish ones?

When we have "wear-your-own-clothes-at-school" day people just slag them off behind their backs, but never to their faces.

Storm Henry, 11

Dunraven, Streatham

You're about to start comprehensive school, are you excited?

Yes, a lot. I'll meet lots of new friends and new teachers.

Won't you miss your friends from your old school ?

Not really, because about 10 of them are coming to the same school as well. So I'll have loads of friends there.

So how is the new school different from the old one?

It's much bigger. And the art displays are very pretty.

What better things does it have?

They have more facilities for science and more space, and they've got an orchestra.

What new subjects will you be starting?

French, but it's such a popular subject all the kids want to do it. Some of us might have to learn Spanish instead, but I don't mind.

What will you miss about your old school?

Some of my friends who won't be there, the teachers, and being in one classroom. In the new school we'll be moving into different classrooms every half-an-hour.

What won't you miss?

The playground, it was too small.

It all sounds a bit daunting; aren't you nervous?

No, but I used to be. But when I start thinking about new books and a new system of what I'll be doing I get excited. I am a bit worried about what people will think of me though.

Will you miss your old teachers?

Yes, definitely. They're the only ones I've ever had.

What are you looking forward to the most?

Getting up early and having a new uniform.

What are your opinions on school uniforms, are they necessary?

Yes. For example, if you're on a trip and the teacher loses somebody, they can find you easier because of the logo. If you were in normal clothes, they wouldn't know you.

When you think of school, what's the first thing that pops into your head?

Fun. The lessons can be fun when we can do things and touch things.

What lessons do you hate the most?

Science is fun because you can touch the powders and stuff, but the worst thing is writing up the reports.

What's started to bug you about your holidays?

Staying home on rainy days doing nothing, watching TV when nothing's on, and being bored out of your mind.

Any pressures at school you're afraid of?

When the bell rings I'm worried about getting lost and being 10 minutes late for the next lesson.

What's cool for school?

Pencil cases with gadgets. They're very special as they have draws with sharpeners in.

What's your favourite item of school stuff?

The computers. I like the education programmes and you can play games that make your life better.

Rhed Chennis-Colbran,

age 6

Sir Henry Fermor, Crowborough

What are you looking forward to most about going back to school?

Seeing my friends Laura and George again, we play games outside. And spelling, because I can't spell important things.

What's the first thing that pops into your head when you think about school?

My teacher Miss Simmons. She helps me with Maths, spelling and she helps us make things. She gives us smiling faces when we've done good things.

Any new things you're going to learn when you go back?

I'm going to learn how to do joined-up writing. I've tried it at home, so I've been practising. I want to learn about tricky songs, they get harder and harder in assembly.

Anything you're not looking forward to?

Bullies like William. He hurts me. He once knocked my friend Laura down in the playground, and he hit me with his reading folder and a hard book that hurt my eye. He didn't say sorry until a teacher told him to. I'm clumsy sometimes because I don't look where I'm going and I bump into people. But I say sorry.

What are your favourite lessons?

PE, swimming and maths.

Does it matter what you wear to school?

Only when you wear the wrong stuff.

Would you rather not be in uniform?

No, I like my uniform.

What's the favourite thing you've done during your school holidays?

We went to Drusilla's Zoo and we saw monkeys and penguins.

And the worst thing?

Staying at home doing nothing.

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