Dave Beeston is a PE Teacher and the School Council Coordinator at a secondary school in Washington, Tyne and Wear. He took over the school council in academic year 2015/16 and wasted no time in looking at ways to improve it.
Here he tells us how he kickstarted their Smart School Council over the course of an academic year.
Our school council was like a broken down car. It hardly had any students on it and didn’t do very much in the school”
In October 2015, Dave searched online for support to improve the school council. He came across Smart School Councils and got in touch to find out more about the model. He came on the Smart School Council Masterclass to fully understand the model, and how he could adopt it at Oxclose. He liked the clear structure that the Smart School Council model gave him and the clear implementation plan with support from the charity.
His first action after the course was to book a meeting with the head teacher. Using our resources, he was able to successfully persuade her to adopting the model, and that it would have a positive impact for all students at Oxclose.
After this, he led a 90 minute CPD session for all staff using our CPD resource in January. This was a really useful session to help staff reflect on why they should improve their school council and adopt the Smart School Council model. It also clarified exactly what was expected of tutors during the weekly 15 minute class meetings during tutor time.
This was followed by announcing the new Smart School Council model to students to encourage involvement and understanding. He used the Smart School Council assembly resource to deliver an assembly to each year group across the school.
Oxclose began running their class meetings in tutor time every fortnight. Using the Class Meeting Tool, staff found these easy to support and students were quickly involved and engaged when they saw that what they were discussing actually mattered within the school.
These sessions went well, but over academic year 2016/17 they are changing things to run the class meetings each week as they have so many ideas and issues to discuss.
Out of the class meetings, ideas for action teams starting coming up. Three action teams were set up first – a Legacy Fundraising Group, Dungeons and Dragons group and Animal Welfare Group. These were set up by students who had a passion. Soon other groups started springing up, and they finished academic year 2015/16 with seven different groups. They’re now working on developing more action teams that work out in the community. The school tracks who’s involved so they can see the impact of the intervention and see how participation is increasing.
The Communication Team at Oxclose is selected by an application process. Using the application form in the manual, Dave asked students to apply to this role and then interviewed them to see how passionate they were to get as many students engaged as possible. They had a clear job description form so that they knew exactly what they were applying for.
A group of 20 students became the Communication Team and each of them chose a role to fulfil. He used the Communication Team training session to help them to prepare for their role. They meet once a week at least, sometimes more often depending on how much they are working on at the time. They are really engaged and help to lead the model and make it easier for Dave to support.
The Communication Team then starting running assemblies for year groups to tell them about what they were doing, and how more students could get involved. They also put up a Smart School Council Communication noticeboard to make sure that students were updated with class meeting questions and actions, and what action teams were getting set up.
The model is having a big impact on our school and the model has helped us to develop skills in all students.