“School councils and class councils…can be a most excellent training ground in responsibility for future citizens [and are] an obvious sign that a school takes citizenship seriously.” Professor Bernard Crick, Chair of the Advisory Group on Citizenship
Research shows that School Councils work to reduce pupil exclusions and promote inclusion through a whole range of complementary policies and strategies. (School Councils UK, 1999).
“Having a Pupil Council has transformed our school by the responsible decisions that it has taken. The number of badly behaved pupils has dropped. Bullying has diminished in our school because councillors look, listen and support all children. We believe that our Pupil Council has made our school a better place – a place where children’s opinions count. We believe every school should have a Pupil Council.” (Windsor primary School, Toxteth, Pupil Council statement)
Avoiding the pitfalls
However, Councils can be ‘more symbolic that real, deal only with fundraising, or are recognised by pupils as being manipulated by the management.’
The research concludes that for school Councils to work effectively the following are necessary:
- Inclusive structures and lines of communication
- Frequent meetings and immediate feedback
- Meetings held in lesson time
- A wide-ranging agenda which includes both pupils’ immediate concerns and school policy issues
- Support from all teachers, particularly the head
Provided schools and School Councils display such features, the study demonstrated that School Councils can have an effect on pupil exclusion/inclusion.