Student Council members at Carlton le Willows have been getting lessons in democracy — with the Academy one of just 10 schools in the UK to benefit from a national charity programme.
Phoenix Education Trust are providing three full-day workshops for student councillors at the Academy, as part of their nationwide Democratic Journeys programme, which seeks to promote democratic values among young people.
Explained Rowan Salim, of Phoenix Education Trust, “If we want to live in a democratic society then we need to practice democracy as children. A school community is a great place to start. We work to improve students’ voice, their confidence and their communication skills and provide a space for children to understand how and why decisions are made.”
The Trust has funding to provide 10 UK schools with the Democratic Journeys programme this year, which is great news for the 30 members of Carlton le Willows’ newly formed Student Council.
With representatives from across all year groups, the students have already formed a committee, elected a chair, deputy chairs, secretary and treasurer and have been canvassing form groups on the most important issues affecting students. Taking ideas on board from across the school, they have also formed smaller subcommittees (focussing on welfare, fundraising, environmental issues, school activities and school services), in order to campaign for particular issues that students feel are important to them.
According to science teacher Ruadh Duggan, who set up the Student Council, Democratic Journeys offers the council members a great opportunity to learn how to put student voice to the best possible use.
She said, “The workshops the students are taking part in are a great opportunity for them to learn how to campaign effectively, taking on board the views expressed across the student body, in order to make a positive impact on students’ school experience and the whole school community.”
“The students are very keen to get started on their council projects. They have surveyed their peers and identified some key issues that are important to them. They are now working in subcommittees to plan campaigns on these issues and are arranging to speak to the head teacher about how to action their proposals.”
Members of the student council will have three separate day-long Democratic Journeys sessions over the course of this term. The first session focussed on helping them to develop their empathy for different points of view, and skills such as listening and communication, in order to understand and communicate the views of different stakeholders within the school community. The next sessions will move on to further developing the effectiveness of the Student Council and executing campaigns.