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St. Thomas of Canterbury

Amy is a Year 6 Teacher and School Council Coordinator at a primary school in Guildford, Surrey. Here she tells us how they built upon their active school council to create a Smart School Council at their school.

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Amy is a Year 6 teacher and their school council coordinator. The school had an active school council that they were keen to improve even further.

She searched online and came along to the Smart School Council Masterclass in order to improve their school council. She was introduced to the Smart School Council model and liked how it had a clear structure that involved everyone. She went back to the school and persuaded her head to adopt the model- they were receptive and agreed to give it a try.

After this, she gave a short staff briefing to other staff to understand the Smart School Council model, get them on board and give them the chance to ask questions. She stressed how the Class Meeting Tool meant that teachers had to sit back and let the children run the meetings – this helped them to get them on board!


Class meetings

They immediately by starting the class meetings, and decided to have do their class meetings one week and their elected Communications Team meeting the other.

In every class, children lead the meetings using the Class Meeting Tool. Now each class has got used to the format and structure, the class teacher who us supporting the meeting is finding that they don’t need to do anything. Initially, there was a few classes who forgot or struggled to complete their Class Meeting and these classes were supported to do it. They’re finding that they can involve more students using the model, and splitting each class into groups means that more meaningful discussions and learning is taking place.

The school have also had a great idea to support their youngest children. Two year 6’s go to each class in reception and year 1 and support the children to lead their meetings, and do the typing for them. Amy says that they’re really good at not taking over, they just help out and type out the results into the Class Meeting Tool.

“The class meetings went really well. Before it didn’t work that effectively, the children in each class had books to report on at the meeting and the communication didn’t work too well. Having the Class Meeting Tool makes this a lot easier. The students lead it and the teachers sit back”

 


Communication Team

The Communication team is an elected group at St. Thomas. It’s made up of chairs, vice-chairs, and members with specific roles including publicity, think-tank and mentors. They help to facilitate the model. The school found it useful to give specific roles to the members of the group so that the children know what their role is.

The Communication Team also present their progress to Governors who really liked how all the children were involved in the Smart School Council model.


Action teams

Having set up their class meetings and communication team, the school looked at where action was taking place in the school. They already had several groups that looked a bit like action teams. These were the Head Teacher task force, Eco-warriors and the Think Tank. They’re in the process of making more action teams to get more students involved in the future.


Impact

Amy describes the impact that she’s seen in the school:

“Through the class councils, every child is discussing and compromising by working in groups. This means that everyone is participating and learning skills rather than just a few. Before we adopted the Smart School Council model, we would just get ideas by students putting their hands up which means not as many could participate.

We’re also getting more things done, quicker. We have a manageable list of projects rather than working on too many in one go like we used to. It’s also quicker for children to see that things are happening, suggestions and ideas are going forward.