At Gateway, we have always valued the children’s opinions and we believe that they benefit hugely from active participation within the school community. We teach them that their views are important and empower them to influence and inform decisions that affect their daily lives. Pupil voice is ultimately at the heart of the successful running of any school, and who better than the children, those who are experiencing the results of our decision making, to drive innovation and learning within their school environment?
Some of the benefits of involving children and young people in decision making are that it encourages them to become active participants in a democratic society - developing skills such as co-operation and communication, and it encourages them to take responsibility. It also contributes to achievement and attainment - young people involved in participative work benefit in a range of different ways. Increased confidence, self-respect, competence and an improved sense of responsibility are all qualities gained by children who contribute in school. This can also increase motivation and engagement within their learning.
Within their classes and tutor groups, all pupils have the opportunity to raise issues, share ideas and take part in discussions that involve all of their classmates in reaching a democratic solution. Wider issues that arise are discussed further at School Council - this ensures that as many pupil voices as possible are heard.
Gateway School Council is an excellent platform for children to promote a sense of unity by working for the common good. It gives the children a sense of ownership of their school and community and promotes effective communication between children, staff and parents. Each term, councillors are nominated and then voted in by their classmates. They meet regularly to consider issues which affect them and others and discuss them, reporting back to their classes and tutor groups.
This week, there was great excitement as our School Council met for the first time within their 'bubbles'. I spoke to reps from Years 4 and 6 this morning about the importance of School Council and what they felt it achieved. Xavier and Katie in Year 4 felt that 'School Council is a way of making the school a better place and a good way of passing information to the rest of the class'.
'In our meeting we discussed which charities we would like to support this year - one local and one international. We will spend time later in our class talking about these different charities and how important they are. We'll ask everyone to vote for which one they think we should support as a school. We also discussed playground equipment for us to use outside at break times and we're going to talk to our class and make a list of things we think everyone will like to play with to give to Mrs Kemp and Mrs Sahota'
Evelyn in Year 6 feels, like Xavier and Katie, that School Council is a great way to make their school a better place and that it provides a two way communication between class and council members. She felt it was good to mix with Year 5 and hear their suggestions.
'In School Council we have been considering different charities (both local and national) to support, and learning about what these charities do to support those in need. We are also going to ask our classes if they have any suggestions. Some of the main charities we are looking at are The Chiltern Foodbank, Roald Dahl Children’s Charity, Water Aid, Florence Nightingale Hospice, Cancer Research and Hearing Dogs. Being on the School Council allows some of us to organise fun events to raise money for charity and to put forward suggestions about how we can change things in school'.
At the end of the day, I believe that valuing the children's opinions and allowing them to be part of decision making ensures a cohesive and happy school community and a positive, healthy and safe place to learn.
Have a great weekend.