The School Council this year has been repurposed as the Student Voice. In collaboration with Mr Hall, it was decided to have one representative for each form from years 7 to 10 to appear on the council. We thought that this would create a fair committee where each year group would be equally represented.
At the beginning of the year, new reps were elected in each form across the school ready to start meetings after October half term.The first appearance of the Student Voice reps, however, was when, at the annual Thanks-giving service at the Abbey, they carried forward banners depicting £50 notes which symbolised the money that had been raised for charity by the students in the school. This highly iconic and traditional event of the school’s was a terrific way to show that the Student Voice did, in fact, represent the students. This was another of the changes made to the council.
In the past, the school council; has been run by a teacher. This went against the whole ideal behind having a student council so we decided to have it run by sixth formers. Kindly, Stefano Asciana, Spencer Caminsky and Christina Cogley have agreed to help me run the council. This team of sixth formers understand, better than the teachers, what the students are thinking and their opinions. Hopefully this will make the council more effective in decision-making.
Meetings began after October half term with the opportunity for the brand-new council to spend £500 on what they chose. This preliminary amount was granted to the council with the view to give it a kick-start.
The reps asked their forms for a list of possible projects to spend the budget on and fed back to the council. Through debate and research, the reps came to the decision to spend some of the money on new footballs for each form group in the school, a much needed investment. As Verulam is a boys’ school, footballs are in constant demand! The students decided that, by spending under the budget, we could put the excess towards our next budget, increasing the options for spending on future projects. This independent thinking and coming up with ideas is a promising sign, showing that the pupils are getting involved and are relishing the opportunity to make a difference. This is what I wanted to achieve: a student voice with actual influence.
Another change has been more frequent meetings. The Student Voice now meets weekly on Tuesday mornings. Having a weekly meeting allows faster progress and for meetings to be shorter allowing students to not miss any lesson time. A common situation is for a school to enter the new academic year with an ambition to have a good school council, only to later let it fade out through the cancelling of meetings and to just give up. I am determined, however, not to let this happen to this Student Voice and to maintain a motivated council right until the end of the year and into next year. So far, it seems we have achieved this because we are more than half way through the year already with plenty of positive energy for improvement still evident in the reps! Time will tell if the council will maintain this level of commitment from all, but at the moment the signs are very positive.