School Council Statement
What is Children’s School Council?
A school council is a body of pupils set up to represent all pupils on issues that affect them; anything from what is sold in the tuck shop to changes in school buildings. There is no fixed structure for a school council, and they range from a group of pupils from different classes who might meet on occasional lunchtimes to a fully-fledged parliament. To be effective, the council must be representative of the views of all the pupils. The least vocal pupils must be given opportunities to have a ‘voice’. This may be through class circle times, class councils, or a suggestions box/book, which may all feed ideas in to the main school council. There should be a democratic ‘election’ for councillors, preferably by secret ballot (where children don’t know who voted for who, as opposed to being asked to put their hands up to vote in full view of their peers, which might affect their vote). A school council should consider issues raised by the pupils and have a system in place to feed back to them on actions, outcomes and achievements.
Brentnall Academy are proud to have representatives for the School Council. These councils are in place so that pupils have a voice and are involved in decision making for the school.
Why do we have a Children’s School Council?
The School Council enables children to take responsibility for themselves and others and gives the children at Brentnall a ‘voice’. It encourages them to make a positive contribution to their school, its environment and ethos. The Council promotes a sense of community within school and is used to support and develop citizenship. It encourages teamwork and helps to improve speaking and listening skills, resilience, reciprocity, reflection and resourcefulness. The role of the School Councillors are to:
- To improve the school according to the children’s point of view
- To make sure each class has a platform to voice their opinions
- To discuss and raise issues
How are School Councillors elected?
At the beginning of each year, children can nominate themselves. Nominees present to their class the reasons why they would make a good councillor and each class votes for their councillor. This process links with our ‘British Values’ to further develop children’s understanding of democracy.
School Council Organisation
- Class Council officials should be nominated and then voted in by their class mates – they should not be chosen by teachers
- The Chair should lead the meetings with the support of the School Council Lead (Mr Evans) – coaching and modelling can be provided
- Pupils will regularly jot any issues, concerns, worries or ideas etc. and pass them on to their class representative, to discuss at School Council meetings
- The Secretary should make notes during School Council meetings
Holding an Effective Meeting
Meetings can be a boring way to spend your time, or they can be exciting, with lots of things being achieved. They are the best way to disseminate information and get discussions going. Here are some tips to help things go smoothly:
- Have a Facilitator / Chair – sometimes meetings can get out of hand, with either too many people trying to speak, no-one speaking at all, or a discussion that is missing the point. A facilitator is a person who can ensure that everyone gets their fair say and the meeting sticks to the agenda. It may be a child or an adult.
- Use an Agenda – this is a list of items to be discussed or decisions that need to be made at the meeting. It keeps everyone on the topic and is a way of gauging how much and what is being achieved.
- Take Minutes – these are the notes taken at the meeting (including a list of decisions made). It’s easy to start a meeting with no-one remembering the exact contents of the last meeting! Minutes avoid arguments over such details and are a record of any progress made.
- Use Voting – when people can’t agree on an issue, the chair person may decide to hold a vote. This may be a secret ballot or show of hands.
- Patience – this is something that council members must have. Although it would be great to be able to achieve success straight away, it is likely to take a while. There may not be a lot achieved in the first year, but at least the framework will be in place for future pupils. Be aware of them wanting to talk about the toilets in the first instance; it’s quite a common starting point!
- Links – it is a good idea to have links with as many organisations as possible in order to access information, have some influence and achieve change. They may even be a good source of funding e.g. Governing Body, Head Teacher, the Senior Management Team, the Town / Parish Council or even the Youth Forum (if a local one exists).
What will be discussed during School Council meetings?
During meetings, the School Council may discuss topics such as:
- Developing areas of the playground
- Suggesting additional sports equipment
- Organising charity events
Every Child Matters
Developing confidence, communication skills, and being happier as a result of being involved with school and class councils helps children develop emotional resilience. Students also help make their peers healthier by improving food in the dining room and promoting sports activities and competitions.
Effective school councils engender peer leadership, openness and awareness. These qualities make schools safer and happier places. Ex-Schools’ minister Stephen Twigg stated that the most effective anti-bullying schemes were led by students.
Enjoying and Achieving
By taking the opportunity to become involved in the school community, essential life skills such as listening, diplomacy, compromise and communication are developed. Effective participation structures in school help raise attainment by improving the learning environment.
Making a Positive Contribution
Through school councils, children’s belief in their ability to make a difference develops. Life skills learnt through active participation enable students to contribute to their community and wider society.
Many school councils are given budgets to manage. The responsibility of running a budget helps children develop economic and financial awareness.
Mr Evans is our School Council Lead. He will ensure that regular meetings are held and the appropriate information is fed back to staff and governors.