This system introduced a rota of Year 8 pupils as ‘Duty Prefects’, which raised participation and addressed elements of the Citizenship curriculum.

The system related to:

  • Student participation – all pupils in Year 8 take part at least once in the project
  • Whole school change – pupils now take an active daily part in the organisation and running of the school.

The system made an impact on:

  • The school office who have enjoyed and appreciate this new idea! 
  • Pupils – they aid administration and smooth running of the school and really get involved. 
  • Staff resources and time – pupils aid the office staff with certain time-consuming duties, i.e. fetching pupils or staff for visitors waiting in reception. In addition in a split school site there are occasions when important documents need to be taken in lesson from one building to another, i.e. work for exclusion room, memos to staff in lessons on important issues, such tasks are performed by the daily duty prefects. 
  • The organisation of the school – the system has enabled the pupils to take part in the organisation of the school, i.e. toilet passes, preparing documents for posting, showing vetted visitors around the school.

Challenges

Getting started! Initially there was resistance from a member of the SMT and office staff. It was important to present evidence and research of projected outcomes to reassure concerns.

A programme of a term’s trial was decided to instigate the project. It seemed at first that I needed to have several time-consuming meetings with various individuals in order to convince them of the purpose of the Daily Duty Prefect and to listen to anxieties. In the end however this actually became a good use of time because it showed a listening manager. General concerns were incorporated into the code of conduct and job description for the pupils.  

Planning

  1. Paper sent to SMT on rational and principles underpinning the idea to enable pupils to actively engage in the organisation and running of the school. 
  2. Interview with all office staff and union representatives. This formed the basis of the code of conduct and outline of duties.
  3. An agreement that the system would run initially for one term and that it would then be reviewed.
  4. The pupils to be selected initially for the spring term were from Year 8. The reason for this is recent research has shown that there is a Year 8 dip in performance. This would be one way of giving Year 8 pupils a boost, raising self-esteem and their position in the school.
  5. Letter to parents to inform them of principles.

Practicalities

Two pupils in each building were allocated to each reception area. A book was used to record tasks and times absent from the desk. Pupils took ownership of the scheme by organising themselves into a rota, which could be based on friendship, boy and girl or ability. This was carried out in form tutor time and the school council representative drew up a list of names. 

The senior prefect delegated for pupil reception responsibility was to ensure that the rota was being followed each day and organise a substitute from the rota if required. The names of pupils were also put in the bulletin each week in order for staff to check absence.  

A member of the office staff was to delegate appropriate tasks and register pupils in each building. To record achievement at the end of each day all the pupils completed an evaluation record to keep in their RESPECT file which is countersigned by the delegated office staff. In addition a certificate was printed on the reverse side, to which if desired additional comments could be made.  

Equipment needed – an appropriate desk and chairs. I also made welcome signs.

Achievements

Pupils’ self-esteem increased as they realised that they are being taking seriously and thus their self-confidence to succeed in other aspects of school life should increase. Pupils will become more motivated to get involved in other aspects of school life and their wider community. “It is saying to the school council, you are important in school”

  • Daily duty prefect promotes a more inclusive environment.
  • Daily duty prefect contributes to fulfilling the NHSS.
  • Daily duty prefect demonstrates a listening and democratic school. ‘Schools that model democratic practice are most effective in promoting civic knowledge and engagement.’ (Torny-Purta et al, 2001 )
  • Improved behaviour, attendance, and reduction of bullying will be a further benefit as alienation and disaffection diminish.
  • The pupils take responsibility and feel positive about themselves
  • It has in addition immensely aided the office staff, who have unanimously wished it to continue.
  • The pupils have developed an awareness of the organisation of the school.
  • The office staff have also been included in the development of good citizenship – increasing also their belonging to the whole life of the school

How did the system address the citizenship curriculum?

KS3 and KS4: Developing skills of participation and responsible action

3b. negotiate, decide and take part responsibly in both school and community based activities.

3c. reflect on the process of participating.

The system illustrates the global dimension in the following ways:

Skills

  • Critical thinking
  • Respect for people and things
  • Co-operation and conflict resolution

Values and attitudes

  • Sense of identity and self-esteem
  • Belief that people can make a difference

Lasting benefits

Pupil day prefect system has made a significant contribution to all of areas listed in consultation document 21/11/2003 from the DfES on ‘Working together: giving children and young people a say’: “Pupils’ participation is about opening up opportunities for pupils in the decision making process and engaging pupils as partners in dialogue, conflict resolution, negotiation and compromise – all important life skills.”

  • Pupils more courteous and polite in their relationships with adults in and outside of school
  • Improved self esteem for pupils = increased motivation = increase in academic results
  • A sense of helping others
  • An understanding of the school as an organisation
  • The office has assistance
  • Development of an inclusive agenda

Lessons learnt

Following interviews with office staff and reading several pupils self evaluation forms the following points have arisen.  Pupils are enjoying the experience although they wish more work could be given to them. There have been a couple on incidents of bags and pens being stolen when the pupils have been absent from the desk .- the code of conduct was amended Eating on the front desk does not present a good image – the code of conduct was amended. All pupils in year 8 have completed one day and those wishing to, have had more than one opportunity. A minority of pupils only wanted to do one day, the majority were delighted to have more opportunities. The self-evaluation form has proved a little complex and a simpler one has now been drawn up. It proved too complex with the pupil representatives making their own lists and handing them in on time, so a member of the office organises lists of pupils taken from partners who the pupils have self selected, and checked for appropriateness by form tutor.

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