Right or wrong: the code of the classroom

As teachers deny spending too little time on traditional values, Clare Garner interviews pupils at Acland Burghley School, north London
Click to follow
The Independent Online
KATE JONES, 14, from Archway: "Our school has a code of conduct. It's a list not of rules but of general understandings. The discipline is still there, but there is a looser understanding between the teachers and children. It's about respect, co-operation and self-control. I don't think it is wrong to have under-age sex. It's like with drugs, it's a personal decision."

TOM ELLIS, 15, from Tufnell Park: "Our morals are based on having people of different colours and religions in our community. I don't even know the Ten Commandments. My parents are quite liberal and let me be independent. They have never said 'No' to anything really and if they did I'd probably go and do it because they would be stopping me."

ELLEN VELLACOTT, 16, from Highbury: "Lying is ridiculous. Stealing is not justified. And violence doesn't solve anything. If anything, it creates more violence and lies. Under-age sex isn't wrong. It's a matter of whether you are ready for it. Marriage is now too casual a thing. I'll make a commitment, but I won't get married."

SIMON REES, 18, from Tufnell Park: "I was both a victim of bullying and a bully myself. I was bullied [and] I went and bullied other people. As a result, I was brought up short by my form teacher and head of year. It was really through that that I learnt the effects of bullying and how damaging it can be."

DOROTHY LEYS, 12, from Kentish Town: "I think smoking is wrong. But if people just say 'Don't do it' then it's not going to want to make us do it any less. I'm not really sure about the lottery . . . It's just taking money from the poor and giving it to the rich. It's just selfish. I think a lot more people would do the lottery if it went to Children in Need or the homeless."

SHAUN NORTON, 14, from Tufnell Park: "I was racist at one time to a few people but through my mum I understood it was wrong. She had another son and he's half-caste. I used to think: 'Ah, right, I'm going to fight you.' But now if trouble comes my way I try and talk my way out of it. You might take a swing at them and think you are right, but actually you are wrong."