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GrayswoodChurch of England
Primary School

Our Learning

School Council

Our School Council consists of 12 pupils; a boy and a girl, elected by their peers from Years 1-6. This group meets with Mr Stanton regularly to discuss key issues and to be involved in decision-making for our school. The children take their role very seriously and understand that we all play a part in the role of making school life more effective, efficient and valuable. They fully appreciate the part that they play within the Junior Leadership Team and the running of the school. After each meeting, the two representatives from each year group feedback meeting minutes and ideas, involving children from across the school in relevant topics and initiatives.

                   

 What have the School Council been up to?

Summer Term 2024

Our first meeting of this final term focused on the Wellbeing posters which the Councillors will create for display around the school. The meeting began with a quick recap of the ideas and activities they had previously thought of to develop the wellbeing of their peers and staff across the school. Each idea was discussed and the progress towards implementing or achieving it, noted. The Councillors then received copies of various wellbeing and motivational posters, taken from online and asked to think about how the posters looked and what information they contained. The group identified that each was bright, bold, full of colour and also had a short and positive message to engage and inspire potential readers of them. The Councillors also felt that it would be good to have some kind of statement or rhetorical question to 'hook' readers in to study the posters in more detail.

Once the examples had been studied and discussed, each Councillor was given a note to take home, explaining their task - to create their own positive wellbeing posters and bring them back into school. Emphasis was placed on great care being taken when creating and completing them, so that pieces of real quality can be displayed around the school. A time-frame of three weeks was given to the Councillors, the aim being to have the posters up around the school in time for the final half term of the academic year.

Spring Term 2024

The first meeting of the Spring term began with the Councillors being welcomed back to school and praised for a good first week of 2024. Their first task was to give feedback on the recent changes which have been made to school lunchtimes, by way of a follow up to their last meeting in 2023. KS1 now have a new lunchtime routine and expectations, with greater responsibility being given to the Year 2 children. The whole-school has received new playground equipment and toys which are being well-used so far this term. Feedback was positive, the whole council agreeing that lunchtimes were now calmer in the hall and more enjoyable out on the playground. They acknowledged that children from all classes were sharing the toys more and generally that the playground was a happier place. It was noted by the Year 6 councillors that there seemed to have been a lot less accidents in the playground so far too.

Discussion then turned to the next project the school council will focus on over the next two terms - the wellbeing of everyone at school, especially the pupils. Mr Stanton talked about the intention to create various resources, activities and projects which would support and address pupil wellbeing throughout the school year. Councillors were given time to discuss in Key Stage groups, their first thoughts on the subject and then a whole-council feedback session was entered into. Ideas were collectively very positive and included things which are easier to implement, such as mindfulness colouring/music opportunities, calm and quiet reading/chillout zones around the school where children know they won't be disturbed by loud or sudden noises, and having school councillors close to the school gate in the mornings to help upset/anxious children come into the playground with more ease and confidence. Longer-term ideas included creating QR-code-based activities which could be put up in various areas around the school, which children could then quickly do at opportune moments throughout the day, for example, one by the KS1 water fountain which requires children to think of an animal for each letter of the alphabet whilst they are getting a drink. The councillors were also buoyed by the idea of creating a video or other multimedia project which could then feature on the school's social media sites, again in relation to promoting wellbeing.

The meeting finished with confirmation of the charities that the Council decided they would like to support across the school year. Including those we fund raised for in the Autumn term, the following will be supported: Christmas Jumper Day, Reindeer Run, NSPCC, Children in Need, Red Nose Day (alternate with Children in Need), Christmas Shoe box appeal, Odd Socks Day.

Autumn Term 2023

A new academic year and a new set of councillors, all 12 of them ready and raring to get involved with the leadership of the school from a pupil point of view. As always, each class - with the exception of Year R - voted in a pair of children to represent their year group and be a part of the school council. The first meeting began with Mr Stanton talking through the role of the councillors and the expectations upon them. Each representative received their School Councillor badge - obviously the best part of the meeting - and will be able to wear this with pride across the school year. 

The first major input of the year centred around play and lunchtimes and the activities and equipment children have available to play with when on the playground and the councillors were asked to contribute ideas about what this was currently like and ways in which improvements could be made. Amongst the many contributions made by each and every councillor, there were some reoccurring themes which came up, namely a desire to have more zoned/designated spaces for certain play, the need for more storage for play equipment and a wider, better quality range of the latter. There were a lot of very good suggestions, including some which had not been thought of when the issue had been discussed at a previous SLT meeting between adults. The ideas were taken back to the SLT and discussed further and as a result of this and other exploration into improving the quality of playtimes, new equipment has been ordered and will be rolled out into playtimes upon arrival. Lunch schedules have also been changed so that there is now less time when all children are on the playground together, thus reducing the risk of accidents and issues. This is an ongoing area of development for the school, but huge strides have been made towards improvements, thanks in part to the contributions of the school council.

Their next task was to agree on the charities they wanted the school to support across the academic year. With so many to choose from, we like to review the list each year and see if there are any we may want to leave for a bit or any others which we can offer support to. The councillors compiled a list of as many of the charities as they could think of and then voted whether or not they wanted to support each this year or not. Tallies were taken for each and decisions made without the need for huge amounts of discussion or debate, the councillors agreeing quite amicably. Results were shared with the Headteacher and support of the selected charities will continue across the year.

The session finished with a discussion on behaviour and the 'pinch points' throughout the school day when this could be improved. The council identified two main times - in the lunch hall and the main cloakroom/KS1 library area at the end of the day when lots of children are needing to get their coats and bags. A number of issues and suggestions on how to address these were put forward, again with all councillors contributing to this discussion. These will be shared with the SLT at a future meeting and hopefully with just a few relatively simple tweaks and measures, the behaviour situation at these times could be greatly improved. 

Summer Term 2023

The councillors met for the first time in a very busy half term and spent the session discussing the idea of 'Wellbeing' in more detail and how we can look after ourselves and each other around school. Each was then given a piece of paper on which to record some initial ideas, thoughts, sketches and so on, which they could incorporate into posters and other positive, motivational and reassuring pieces which could be displayed around school. All councillors were very engaged by this and after initially working pretty much in silence, soon all found their voices and contributed some excellent ideas and suggestions to the group discussions. The idea is to keep coming back to wellbeing as a focus, even once new councillors are elected in the next academic year, as the school council felt that it was a valuable area on which to focus, following the years disrupted by Covid. 

The session finished with this website being shared with the school council. Having been under development for a while, this was their first chance to see 'their' page and it was clear that all of them took pride in what they had contributed to the school across the year. 

Spring Term 2023

The focus for Councillors this term has been the creation of an Anti-Bullying leaflet which can be used by children and parents alike to think about what bullying is, as well as what to do if they feel that they feel they are experiencing bullying in some way. The council's first task was to analyse and discuss other examples of such a leaflet and think about the kind of information they would like to include in theirs. All councillors contributed enthusiastically to the discussions, outlining their thoughts and justifying why they thought certain sections of information should or should not be included. They gave especially thoughtful input to ensuring that the leaflet was accessible for children in all year groups and as well as including clear and concise wording more appropriate for older year groups, also wanted pictures and illustrations for younger children - this is very much a whole-school document. 

Following initial discussions, children were then tasked with designing and creating information sections which could then be included in the final version. Again, they completed these with great enthusiasm, keen to see their ideas used. A draft of the leaflet was produced and then scrutinised by the councillors to ensure they had met the brief they identified at the start of the project. After a few minor tweaks were made, the leaflet was 'signed off' by the council and then they shared it with the whole-school during an assembly. Copies of the anti-bullying leaflet can now be found in each classroom and the school office. It has also been shared with parents and a PDF version of it can be accessed via the link at the bottom of the page. 

Autumn Term 2022

This has been another busy term for the school councillors who were newly-elected by their classmates at the start of the academic year. Their first task was to review the charities that the school support and identify the ones they thought we should support annually and those which we may want to alternate our fundraising efforts for. Amongst those the council chose to support were Children in Need and Comic/Sport Relief, alternating these every year, along with Phyllis Tuckwell's Reindeer Run and World Book Day. It as also suggested that we would keep an eye out for possible other charities to support and discuss these at council meetings when they were identified.

The next task that the council had was thinking of ways in which the playground and equipment used by children at break and lunchtimes could be made more exciting and engaging. This remains an ongoing focus for the Senior Leadership Team, but the councillors offered some excellent suggestions, such as creating new areas, resourcing more plant life to brighten the playground up, having sensory equipment attached to walls for children to play with and adding artwork around the playground to add some colour. Various things have been implemented in conjunction with the Sports Crew and Forest School provision, with further work being considered on this moving forwards.

An anti-bullying leaflet was next on the council's 'to do' list and this was a task that was contributed to brilliantly by all 12 councillors. Discussions about what should be included in the leaflet were had, with children identifying pros and cons for the various sections they identified in the example leaflets they looked at. The council suggested a layout they all liked and are working on producing items to be included. Once done, it is hoped that this leaflet can be shared with parents, pupils and staff alike. 

The final task of the term was to consider ways in which lunchtimes could be improved, as these were a time when there was increasing challenge for pupils and staff. The reasons for this were identified, discussed and solutions looked for, all of which were suggested with the aim of making lunchtimes quicker, quieter and more pleasant for all. This prompted a huge amount of discussion amongst the councillors, but one idea in particular stood out - swapping the order in which the children enter the hall to eat. This was trialled for the final week of the term with great success, implemented permanently at the start of the spring term and has so far seen a huge improvement in how lunchtimes run, playground accident rates and how happy children and staff are during them.  

Summer Term 2022

This term saw the council finalising the overhaul of the school House system ready for implementation in the next academic year. The process had seen them discussing a potential new theme for the house names, before identifying possible options within their chosen category of Significant Individuals. Once the four names had been agreed upon, a whole-school homework competition was launched, which encouraged children to design a logo for their house. This was well-received and many entries were submitted. The School Council shortlisted and then voted on their favourite alongside the Senior Leadership Team. Winning designs were chosen and a prize given to each of the successful entrants. The new house system is now up and running well, with Burns, Darwin, Hawking and Lovelace competing for the new house cup each half term.