Most schools have a School Council but JCoSS decided to set one up with a difference! Ours is run under the name ‘Student Parliament’, which mirrors the UK system from MPs to the Prime Minister and Deputy. Students not only have a voice in key elements of school life but they are also simultaneously learning about the way our parliamentary system works; form groups are constituencies, students running departments are secretaries of state, all student representatives are MPs and the head teacher is the monarch (needless to say, with clear differences in power).
Each department last year (ranging from the Department for Education to the Department for Health) worked on their own projects e.g. making learning more interactive, improving awareness of healthy eating and choices, choosing three charities to support and running inter-form competitions. Additionally, they responded to consultation from senior leadership such as the nature of the link books (home-school diaries), the timings of the school day and even met and spoke to various politicians and OFSTED inspectors.
Our students are trained to chair their own meetings; complete with agendas and minutes and make decisions that have a positive impact on the school. Possibly the most exciting achievement of our first year was the Sports Day, Jamy B, last year’s Prime Minister says, “Last year’s parliament was a huge success. We became a community and I hope that future parliaments will be able to do the same and improve the school for the better. My favourite aspect of the year was Sports Day because we came together to work on something that would benefit school students.”
Student Parliament contributed to Sports Day by surveying the student body to find out which sports students wanted to include (Department for Sports), organising a fancy dress ‘Fun Run'(Department for Business and Communities), for which they organised a sponsorship programme to fundraise for our chosen charities (Department for Culture and Media). At the end of the fun run environment top tips were handed out on a laminated card to attach to students’ sports bags (Department for the Environment. At break and lunch there was a healthy baking tuck shop – our serious bakers had entered a ‘healthy bake-off’ competition – Masterchef style (run by the Department for Health). Our five star students baked up a storm and proceeds went to our charities. An alternative to one of the sessions, in the spirit of inclusion was a race-against-time treasure hunt, planned and facilitated by our Department for Education). It was thrilling to see how creative, organised and competent our parliamentarians can be – truly the leaders of tomorrow.
We now have a brand new Student Parliament which is populated by both year groups. Our new Prime Minister is Indigo S who says, “I hope we can get out of this year as much as last year’s Parliament achieved, as they did really well. I hope to work well with everyone in this year’s Parliament and for everyone to bring their ideas to the table.” Our new Deputy Prime Minister is Zachary L equally excited about the year to come, “I am really looking forward to working with everyone involved in the Student Parliament, I am positive that everyone has great ideas they can contribute to discussions, I hope to finish the year knowing I’ve achieved our goals. I’m delighted to be given this privilege – I feel excited to be able to make a difference.” If last year is anything to go by, what a difference they will make.
Members of the student parliament have met a number of leading politicians themselves, including Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education; Ed Balls Shadow Chancellor; and Ed Miliband Leader of the Opposition who said “I was not really as impressive as you at that age and I would encourage you to go into politics.”