At Hartley Primary Academy, we have a School Council, made up of 1 teacher and 14 students. Being a part of this promotes the children’s voice and a great sense of community. Having a school council within a PYP school means that the children have agency and can take action for the wellbeing of the school community as well as wider charities. This supports the children to become internationally minded and caring global citizens of the world.
To be a School Councillor, children need:
- To be able to work as a part of a team.
- To develop an appreciation for different ideas and points of view.
- To think of others and communicate through discussion.
- To listen attentively to differing points of view.
- To consider solutions and how to help.
- To make connections between issues that have become an issue at school, locally and globally.
At the start of each academic year, a new group of councillors are gathered. The students can choose to stand for councillor and are then voted for by their classmates. The children who wish to be elected can explain why they would like to be part of the group. 1 child from each class is elected, resulting in 2 students per year group. The children who were school councillors in Year 5 have the opportunity to remain in council the following year too, in order to provide consistency with ideas and any remaining projects that need to be completed.
Once the group is formed, the children have the chance to develop teamwork and leadership skills. Being part of the School Council is the perfect way to promote the Learner Profile Attributes and for the children to understand how they are relevant in everyday life. Children are able to question and reflect about how their actions and opinions impact on the school, local communities and the worldwide community. They communicate with each other in meetings and with their peers when they feedback and collect ideas. Councillors are required to think carefully, be open-minded about the views of others and make balanced decisions. Through inquiry and pupil voice, the children take ownership of decisions and improvements that can be made. Planning fundraising events to support the school, local or worldwide communities, the children learn to plan, organise, host and evaluate events. Yearly global events are supported such as Children in Need and Comic Relief which usually involve lots of meetings to discuss events that will take place then require feedback to be delivered to classmates. Local causes have also been supported, such as collecting food for the local food bank or clothing and bedding donations for House of Mercy homeless charity. All events are supported wholeheartedly by the council members and they are encouraged to thank and feedback to those who supported us. By making a difference to the lives of many, our student councillors develop the attributes of curiosity and empathy; they need to understand what the cause is, what it’s promoting and why and how they are supporting it. The school community is also developed using the School Council. They have discussed the school grounds with their peers and decided to raise some money to purchase new playground tables and equipment for playtimes. They have supported Cook by tasting new recipes and looking at menu ideas then sharing their thoughts about what would be enjoyed. Compost buckets were implemented in order to address the food waste problems.
A School Council provides the children with voice, choice and ownership. It allows them to express opinions or concerns and make a difference to the school, local and global communities. Responding to the student voice is vital for an effective school. Issues arise and are discussed; then suggestions are made for improvements. Pupils, teachers and parents work together to support progress, implement improvements and make a difference. This results in the children feeling valued, empowered and supported.
School Council Achievements: 2019/20
Last academic year, our thriving and enthusiastic School Council strived to achieve support for their school as well as supporting charities. During the meetings, School Councillors shared feedback and feelings from their peers about what they thought could be done to improve the school and how. Meetings were held at least twice a term so that school, local and worldwide issues could be discussed. Each councillor was then responsible for feedbacking the minutes back to their peers and collecting responses from them. Our School Councillors take their responsibilities very seriously and take great pride in seeing the achievements they make. In order to become global citizens of the world, the children fundraise for local and worldwide charities, as well as budgeting for resources for their school too.
During 2019 – 2020, our School Council supported the very popular worldwide charities Children in Need and Sport Relief. These events were a huge success and the generosity and hard work from our students and parents will have made a huge difference to many lives. Developing international mindedness is an important part of teaching the PYP at Hartley and we were able to develop this when we supported the charity ‘Where Rainbows Meet’, a non-profit organisation devoted to community and business development in Vrygrond, near Cape Town. We supported them by collecting any unwanted football boots that the children and their families had. Some even donated money so that we could support the cost of shipping them to South Africa. During an assembly, we discussed the relevance of this charity and the children were able to empathise with the children of Vrygrond. They could relate to the importance of having clubs to go to and what it would be like if they couldn’t. In total, 44 pairs of boots and £15.00 was donated which will make a difference to many children.
The Councillors also supported the school PTA by running a stall at the Christmas Fair. The money raised for the school was used to purchase extra playground equipment such as card games, colouring pads and resources, top trumps and ping pong balls to enrich playtime experiences. These were purchased in response to the children’s wish list. The environment was considered when new tables and benches were chosen by purchasing those made from recyclable plastic, again developing the children’s global awareness further.
Before lockdown began, the children had decided to support the Kent Air Ambulance charity by collecting used crisp packets. These are then recycled into foil blankets to help victims after accidents. Although this initiative was not completed, it will be continued when circumstances allow. Through supporting this charity, the children are learning more about recycling and caring for others. Pupil’s voice, choice and ownership lets them select worthwhile causes to support and gives them satisfaction for their achievements.