The government is encouraging primary schools to set up school councils.
The DfES has funded the charity School Councils UK to produce a toolkit for primary teachers and a handbook for primary pupils, which were both launched in December by the schools minister, Andrew Adonis.
‘I warmly support the work of school councils and wish to see it extended,’ said Lord Adonis. ‘These materials are tangible evidence of what can be achieved when government and key partner organisations work closely together. It will be of enormous benefit to all our primary schools.’ The DfES sees school councils as an important way of giving young people the opportunity to express their views on a range of topics from how to tackle bullying in the playground and school discipline to the quality of school food.
The minister also welcomed the publication by the Secondary Heads Association of guidance to school leaders on how to improve student councils in secondary schools. Raising the Student Voice: A framework for effective school councils has been written by Bernard Trafford, the head of Wolverhampton Grammar School and the author of a book on school councils published by SHA in 2003. ‘The argument in favour of school councils has been largely won,’ said Bernard Trafford. ‘Research and schools’ experience show beyond a doubt that active pupil participation can improve behaviour and increase attendance. However, while nearly all secondary schools have schools councils, there is a sense of frustration that they have reached a certain point and come to a halt. This publication is intended to help school leaders restart the process of raising the student voice.’
Meanwhile, Beverley Hughes, the minister for children, young people and families, has praised the level of response given by young people in the recent consultation on the government’s youth green paper. In one of the biggest responses ever to a government consultation, more than 20,000 submissions were received,
‘Young people have shown us that they really want to be involved and their response to the consultation has been nothing short of fantastic,’ said the minister. ‘This unprecedented level of response proved that young people want to be heard and they want to participate.’