Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Running A Primary School Council

For the last few years I have been the staff representative on our KS2 School Council.  It has been expertly run by our Deputy Head, Sue, and I always refer people to her on Twitter when they are interested in starting one in their school or changing how theirs works.  Having watched and learned how to ensure the School Council is effective in its purpose, I've included in this post how Sue has run ours for many years.  

Who is involved?
After short speeches, every class elects two representatives by a secret vote at the beginning of the year.  These same two children come to every meeting throughout the academic year.  Also present are representatives from the SLT, teachers, teaching assistants, governors and parent/teacher association.  Pupils reps are identified by a School Council badge and their photos are displayed in our main corridor.  There are two School Councils; one for each Key Stage.  We are a large 3-form entry primary school so this makes it easier to manage.  In smaller schools, a School Council could included representatives from every class instead. 

How often and how long are meetings? 
The school council meets approximately once a month.  For most adult representatives, this isn't a problem.  For me, it means I need to be covered for the hour-long meetings.  This cover comes from our headteacher, assistant head or SENCo.  We meet in the hall and tables are set out in a square with representatives sat in year groups along each side of the square.  

What happens in meetings? 
Each meeting has an agenda, created by Sue, and is chaired by a different pair of Year 6 representatives each term.  These children are given a short script to help them run the meeting smoothly.  For each item, the Year 6 pupils announce what will be discussed, share some information and then go around the tables to hear pupils' suggestions, ideas or opinions.  We often have votes to make important decisions.

At the end of each meeting, there is always time for "Any Other Business".  Favourite topics for this section are toilets, break-time snacks and, currently, Pokemon cards however we have had some very useful and important suggestions made when the floor is opened up.  After all, this is the point of a School Council; to give children the chance to be heard and learn more about what happens in school.  
School Councillors vote each year on our school charities, suggest and organise fundraisers and communicate such information with their classes.  They were the first to view our newly built wing of the school and often find out exciting or important school news before their peers.  The teacher rep (me!), takes the minutes of the meeting so that there is a record of what was said and decided. 

What happens after meetings? 
The minutes from the meeting are shared with all members of staff at the school.  Also, the Year 6 leading reps take a copy of the minutes to every class for the reps to put in their School Council folder.  Each pair of class reps is given time in the classroom to share with their peers what was discussed in the School Council meeting.  Sometimes, they must collect ideas from the class to share at the next meeting or have a vote to share the results.  This is also the opportunity for their classmates to raise any other business which they want raised with the School Council.  Some children have specific jobs to do after the meeting; for example, speaking to the premises officer or receptionist about a problem.

Below you can see an example of the minutes which shows the matters for discussion in one of our recent meetings.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments below or to tweet myself or Sue.  

Click to enlarge


2 comments:

  1. It looks like you've got a really solid structure for your school council and you have said, "[it] is effective in its purpose", but you don't say exactly what the purpose is.
    Having worked with school councils for a years I think this is often an issue, people haven't really thought about the purpose, but have concentrated on the structure.
    Is the purpose to give a great experience to two children from each class? Is the purpose to give them skills? What skills? Are they the children who most need those skills? What does it teach the rest of the children in the school?

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    Replies
    1. We considered adding a 'Why have a school council?'/'What's the point' question but decided that we referred to its purpose implicitly in the 3rd question: 'to give children the chance to be heard and learn more about what happens in school'.

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