Mandy is a Year 6 Teacher and School Council Coordinator at Dovelands Primary in Leicester. She's led a fantastic effort by the children and staff at the school in adopting the Smart School Council Model.
Please introduce yourself
I’m Mandy Jarvis, Year 6 teacher and School Council Coordinator. I’ve been running the school council since April 2016.
What was the school council like before you started on the Smart School Council model?
We had 2 school council representatives for each class (30) with one member of staff supporting .
How were you introduced to the Smart School Council model?
I saw information about the training course and went on one of the Masterclass days.
I loved the model and thought it could work perfectly in our school. I particularly liked how it involved in the whole school in decision making rather than just a small group of children
What did you do first?
I came back from the training and discussed the model with my Head teacher. She was very supportive and agreed to give me time out of class on a Friday afternoon to meet with the school council so I wasn’t trying to fit it in around assemblies, my free time, etc.
She also agreed to us having a regular Wednesday afternoon slot in the timetable for the whole school class meetings
I was given time in a staff meeting to introduce the model of the weekly class meetings. Without her support and buy-in it would have been impossible to introduce the model. School Governors were also informed and were very supportive. At the beginning of this academic year – Sept 2016 – we held a democracy week across the whole school. Communication team representatives were elected from each class. Every child wrote a manifesto, we had campaigning, debates and then a secret ballot in each class.
Sounds fantastic! What’s your next task?
We’ve already got our class meetings up and running and have a Communication Team (one child per class from KS1 and KS2 (15 children). As yet, we haven’t set up Action teams as these need more staff buy in and time so that’s our next thing to focus on.
What’s it been like to implement?
The whole process has been very smooth to implement but this is mainly due to the support of the Head and staff team – ensuring that weekly meetings are prioritised and take place and that the Head takes notice of the views of children. The Head attends the Communication Team’s meetings from time to time to hear the views of the school.
What’s the impact been?
The whole model has been adopted in our school very well. The children enjoy their weekly meetings and are developing good negotiating skills and the ability to make decisions by consensus.
It has raised the whole profile of what democracy is - It also links in very well to our British values agenda. The weekly class meetings have become a real focus of the week and children are genuinely excited to hear the results each week
More importantly, changes have been made as a result of the pupil voice. Other members of staff have used the weekly question format to gain opinions of children for their curriculum area as well as to improve behaviour and the general well-being of the children and the school.