‘Excellence, choice, inclusion’ is a phrase at the heart of the JCoSS community vision, and one which resonates through all aspects of life. It begins with the students: research demonstrates the importance of inclusion and choice in the context of student participation at school: it has a huge impact on everything from their experience of school to their learning and achievement. Encouraging student participation can be done in a number of ways; here at JCoSS, students have been involved at first-hand to develop their own JCoSS Student Parliament, which is modelled on the British Parliamentary system.
The timing could not have been better! Merely four months after a radical change in our own political landscape, JCoSS students began electing local MPs to represent their form groups (henceforth known as constituencies) and these 14 students gave us our first Cabinet Ministers. From this wonderful and dynamic group, four stood for the roles of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, each running incredibly energetic campaigns including flyers, posters, slogans and phenomenal speeches which were presented to the entire student and staff body.
The count of votes from staff and students led to the election of our Prime Minister, Jamy Bristol-James and Deputy Prime Minister, Sophie Papier- two forward thinking, highly competent and yet remarkably humble young women.
Each Cabinet Minister then had the task of writing a letter of application for the portfolio (area of responsibility) of their choice. These roles again mirrored the British system: Secretaries of State for Business and Innovation, for Culture, Media and Sport, for Education, Environment, Health, Local Government & communities, and a special role for “Minister without Portfolio. Without fail, every Cabinet Minister proved their worth and, after an agonising decision-making meeting, the cabinet was chosen by the Student Prime Minister and her Deputy.
The final phase of recruitment was a Careers Fair to populate the individual departments.
The Leader and Deputy Leader of Barnet Council, Lynne Hillan and Andrew Harper, visited the School to meet the JCoSS Prime Minister and 3 of her team. Their feedback was something for us all to be proud of. Cllr Hillan commented “Councillor Andrew Harper and I were very impressed by the eloquence and confidence of the JCoSS Student Parliament members that we met – the politicians of the future. We think it is a great idea to implement a scheme to mirror the British Parliamentary system, as it will help JCoSS students relate to it, plus it teaches them democracy and citizenship. It is clear to see that JCoSS is an outstanding learning environment.”
Whilst the system has been envisioned and implemented by staff, the commitment, momentum and creativity are in the hands of our students. Exciting times lie ahead: already the entire student body has been involved in designing faculty logos and has revelled in the opportunity to be listened to by their elected MPs. Whether involved in the Student Parliament or not, all JCoSS students have the opportunity to be heard, and what fabulous ideas there are to listen to! All we can say to conclude is: watch this space!