I’ve been thinking quite a lot about British Values. What they are? How they can be taught? What makes them British? The last question I’ve been particularly struggling with, so I’ll leave that for now.
All this pontification lead me focus on the British Value of Democracy and how I could best give the children in my school an understanding of what it means. As a result, I set up a School Council. It’s something that, I’m told, has happened before, but just seemed to fizzle out.
Having not been at a school that has had a Council before I needed to do a bit of research. A quick Google search offered a good range of ideas and video clips, but asking Twitter was particularly helpful. I was put in touch with Sue Smith who was able to give me the benefit of her wealth experience. This gave me loads of ideas for how to run our School Council and what they can actually do.
The first step was to give an assembly and let the children know what was going to happen and how they could be involved. I knew from early on the interest was going to be high because the behaviour throughout that assembly was fantastic, with the children completely engaged and eager to find out more.
Next the children that were interested had to ask their teacher for an application to register their interest and explain why they would be a good class representative. This meant that children were not just standing on a whim. They went home, thought about it and discussed it with their parents.
Once the nominations were all in we held a hustings just prior to the vote. We ask all of the candidates the same 3 questions and gave them chance to take them home, to once again give a considered response. This was the highlight of the process for me. I was very proud to see so many of the children in my class stand up and present their ideas so well to their peers. A brave thing to do and a valuable experience for all of them.
The hustings questions were…
- What is the best thing about out school?
- What do you think could be improved?
- What will you do to make our school even better?
The ballot itself was a done in secret when all of the class had to put a X on the ballot paper next to the name of the person they wished to vote for. As all of the candidates had been through a fairly vigorous process they all took it very seriously. This in turn meant that other members of the class took it seriously also. We didn’t just get they usual voting for friends. They seemed to actually consider who would represent them well on the Council and voted accordingly. Some of the losing candidates were a little miffed, but all saw the election process as being fair and so no tears. Not even in Year 3!
We’ve just held our first full School Council meeting. The Head was invited along and asked the Councillors to write a report for the Governors, they elected a Council Leader and they set an agenda of issues to be discussed at the next meeting. They will be launching their blog page in assembly later this week.
I’ve found it a very positive experience for the whole school so far. They have gained a good understanding of the democratic process and hopefully will soon begin to see the impact the Council is having around the school.