School Council Policy
Our vision is, for all students to be able to contribute towards the continuous improvement of the school community.
Definition and Ethos of Our School Council
The School Council is a body of students elected by their peers in a formal election setting. These students represent the views of all the pupils and consider ways to improve their school. The school council is made up of 2 representatives from each year group who discuss matters about their education and school life and raise any concerns with the Senior Management Team and Governors of the school. The High School Ballynahinch firmly believe that young people have unique perspectives on learning, teaching and schooling in general and we encourage students to think about how to enact their understanding of human rights and responsibilities in practical ways. It gives them direct experience of debating and negotiating issues and see the 'bigger picture' of how the whole school is run.
UNICEF – RIGHTS RESPECTING SCHOOL AWARD
- In order to make our pupils' participation a reality, we feel that it is important for them to know about the agreements and pieces of legislation that exist to protect their rights. It is our aim that by becoming a rights respecting school, that, participation will run like a thread through all aspects of school life.
- 'The Rights Respecting Schools Award (RRSA) recognises achievement in putting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at the heart of a school's planning, policies, practice and ethos. A rights-respecting school not only teaches about children's rights but also models rights and respect in all its relationships: between teachers / adults and pupils, between adults and between pupils.'
We aim to educate our pupils that rights are guarantees that protect individuals and groups from actions that affect them. They will learn that these human rights are things that they are entitled to simply by being a person and are:
- universal: the same for everyone
- indivisible: equally important
- inalienable: all humans have them and they cannot be taken away
School Council Guidelines
The aim of the school council is to involve students in helping to create and implement school policies and procedures that will benefit everyone in the school community. This will address the following areas:
- To make changes in our school and community.
- To give pupils the opportunity to let adults know their feelings and opinions about things that affect them.
- Pupils should also be able to have a say in decisions and to play an active role in making their school a better place for all.
The Election Process
All pupils are given the opportunity to apply to be a representative on the school council. They do this by filling in an application form and getting the recommendations of two teachers. Both the pupil and a parent/carer must sign this form to show their dedication to their potential role. (See appendix for a copy of the application form).
Once all the application forms have been returned by the deadline, the election campaign begins. The photographs of all the nominees' are displayed in the entrance hall of the school along with the election week schedule, which is as follows:
- Year 8 - Monday
- Year 9 - Tuesday
- Year 10 - Wednesday
- Year 11 - Thursday
- Year 12 - Friday
The elections take place during break and lunch time on the allocated day. During this process, each pupil registers to take their vote and on doing so is given a voting form with the names and photographs of the nominees for their year. To vote they must place an X beside their chosen nominee and post it in the voting box. The votes are then counted and the 2 candidates with the greatest number of votes will then become the form representatives in the school council. The secret ballot and the counting are supervised by the teachers in charge of the process and also the Head Boy and Head Girl who will also be taking positions on the council.
The Role of the Council
Our school council shall function in a consultancy role to SMT and perform such other duties and responsibilities which SMT may from time to time designate.
The school council will undertake the following:
Work with SMT and give across their opinions which should be consistent with the school's rules and policies.Develop creative ways to involve parents in the school.Develop ways of encouraging outside groups and agencies to be involved in the school.Serve as the voice for the pupils of The High School Ballynahinch within the school and within the community.
The Role of the Council Representatives
The role of the council representatives is to:
Listen to the views of the year group.Represent the ideas and views of their year group during school council meetings.Feedback key issues from these meetings to their year group.
School council meetings will be held at least once per month. These will take place in the library and it will be compulsory that all representatives attend. (On the initial application form, all representatives demonstrated their dedication to the council by agreeing to maintain an 80% attendance at meetings).
These meetings will be agreed by the School Council Teacher representatives, SMT, School Council Representatives and other members of staff. Meetings will take place either during lunch time or during a school period. (All representatives MUST gain the permission of their class teacher prior to their attendance at a meeting which take place during class time).
School Council Meeting Organisation
It is the aim of the school that the meetings should be run and led by the pupils (School Council Representatives) with the teachers involved mainly for guidance. During the first meeting of the council, each representative will take on a designated role or job. These roles will be decided democratically using a secret ballot system by the School Council. The roles are as follows:
- Chair Person – leads the meetings and helps set the agenda through gaining feedback from the other representatives on issues that have been raised by their year group.
- Vice Chair Person – will assist the Chair Person and ensures that all of the representatives carry out their roles effectively. They will also run the meeting in the absence of the Chair Person.
- Secretary – takes the minutes of each meeting which should then be word-processed and distributed to all of the teachers and council representatives.
- Treasurer – Works along with the council link teachers in managing the school council budget.
- Teacher Liaison Officers – Liaises with the Principal or Vice Principal before and after each meeting.
- Web Site Officers – Liaise with the teacher in charge of the school website to ensure that the school council page is kept up-to-date.
- Newsletter Officers – Produce a termly 'School Council Newsletter' showing the pupils and parents/carers the issues discussed and achievements made.
- General Liaison Officers – Liaise and keep other adult members of staff updated with the issues discussed.