Having a really clear idea of what the school council boundaries will help to focus your school council. It’s a good idea for every school council know what the boundaries are to their school council work. Some school councils include this in a document called ‘terms of reference’, which just means the rules that the school council sticks to.
It’s important to understand what these are because it can save a lot of wasted effort. Some school councils that we’ve worked with have worked for ages on a project, only for the headteacher or governors to say that it is something that they can’t change. This is a waste of effort, and also frustrating for everyone involved!
We’ve come up with this simple exercise to help you to explore your school council boundaries with students and teachers. If you’re doing it with students, it’s best to split into groups of four or five then evaluate the answers together.
1. Download and print these two A4 resources: [Download not found] [Download not found]
2. Starting with the boundary card options, cut up the four different options and arrange like this on a table:
3. Then take the boundary card answers sheet, and cut up each of the answers. As a group, place each answer under one of the headings above. For example, you might start with ‘corridor displays’ and work out that that is something that pupils and staff make a decision on together. Go through each of the different answers until you’ve built up a picture of where each decision is made in your school.
It’ll start to look something like this:
4. So now you’ve mapped out who takes the decisions in your school on these areas. If you’ve got different groups doing the same exercise, lead a discussion on the reasons for those different answers. Also think about the things that are in the ‘off-limits’ column, do staff members and the headteacher agree that those are off-limits? And is there anything that the students thing they can influence which they actually can’t?
5. This next step is useful to get school councils to think about what to do next. Ask students to pick the three areas that they’d most like to have more of a say on.
This can help students to get ideas on which projects to focus on, and help your Smart School council to understand the areas it should work on, and how it works, as part of the Smart School Council policy.
We hope that’s useful. Let us know how you get on in the comments field.