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Smart School Council model: Impact so far

Over the course of this academic year, we’ve developed the Smart School Council model and begun implementing it in primary and secondary schools across England. It’s a pretty big shift for us, and one we’re quite excited about.

But excitement isn’t enough on its own to create a positive impact. What is it trying to do? And does it actually work?

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With the help of Sarah at the fantastic NPC, we’ve surveyed and telephoned the schools we’ve worked with this year to find out how they’ve been getting on. Part of this is to look at the impact of the intervention so far, and also to look at how we can improve the support that we give them.

But what’s the model meant to do?

The model allows schools to involves ALL students in their Smart School Council. This helps to build skills among all students, and helps them to develop better speaking and listening, compromise, negotiation, and team skills. This aims to help them become active, democratic citizens. And satisfy Ofsted requirements around British Values and SMSC.

What does it actually look like?

It’s got three key elements: class councils, action teams and a communication team. Find out more here. We aim to create resources (and a network of schools) so that this is as easy as possible for staff to implement.

How many schools are working on it and how do they start this?

We’ve introduced the Smart School Council model to 124 schools this academic year. We’ve done this in 8 different Smart School Council Masterclasses where school staff come along for a day to reflect on their practice and learn about the model. If you’re interested in coming along to one of these, you can book here.

How’s it going in these schools?

We surveyed each of these schools to see how they’re getting on. We asked them what they have done since they came onto the Masterclass.

Of the schools that responded:

  • 68% said that ‘I’ve made some progress’ towards the model.
  • 22% said ‘I’ve made lots of progress’ towards the model
  • 8% said ‘nothing, I wanted to but I couldn’t’. These schools all suggested that it takes time to convince other key staff about the model, and they are looking to get it set up next academic year.
  • 3% said they ‘didn’t want’ to implement the model because it wasn’t infant-friendly enough. We’re looking at how we can improve this, though there are other infant schools who are making good progress.

After the schools come on the Masterclass, what did they do?

In those schools that have made ‘some’ or ‘lots’ of progress, we’re seeing some encouraging statistics.

  • The majority of these schools have started by setting up the class council element of the model. Find out more about class councils here.
  • 73% of the schools said they started by building on their existing school council model. 4% have scrapped their existing model and started again. Finally, 9% started a Smart School Council from scratch. The others didn’t answer.
  • The most common answers that schools said when asked ‘what could SSCC could have done to help you make better progress with the model?’ were ‘given us a CPD session resource to run back in school’ and ‘finished off the full web app’
  • 94% of schools said they would ‘recommend the model to other schools’, 2 of the schools said ‘maybe’.
  • Even just a few months after the Masterclass, 42% of schools said the model has had a ‘very positive’ impact on their school, 33% said ‘slightly positive’, 18% said it is ‘too early to say’ and 6% said ‘no there’s been no change’. No schools said ‘slightly negative’ or ‘very negative’.

Has it increased the number of students involved?

We can see that there has been a significant increase in the number of students involved. We asked the schools about the number of students that have been directly involved in developing skills as part of the school council before and after the intervention.

  • The average percentage of all students directly involved in developing skills and learning as part of their school council BEFORE our intervention was 7% of all students.
  • The average percentage of students directly involved in developing skills and learning as part of their school council AFTER our intervention was 45% of all students.
  • Our intervention has helped to increase involvement by an average of 38% of students. In many schools, this has taken place in just a few months.
  • This means that in these schools, there are 5,758 students now involved in developing skills and having a say that weren’t involved before.

What are teachers saying?

  • “I really feel that with this model ALL children in the school can be involved, have their voice heard and have the opportunity to gain the skills developed through the school council”
  • “All classes are now more involved in Class Council and actions are taking place as a direct result”
  • “Excited and empowered children”
  • “Children are take more of a lead; Also I am not as worried about things failing”
  • Every child will have a voice on school issues”

What does this mean for Smart School Councils?

We’re really pleased about the positive response from schools. In particular, the significant percentage increase in involvement of students, in a short space of time, is really encouraging.

Launching in academic year 2016/17, we have manualised the process of becoming a Smart School Council. Join up as a premium member to access all of the resources, session plans, web tools and support to make implementation easy:

Premium Membership

Or come along to a Masterclass:

Smart School Council Masterclass – CPD for teachers


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