A newsletter featuring Pupil Participation
From an event organised by the Anti-Bullying Network, the Scottish Schools Ethos Network
and Highland Council
||Run your cursor over each picture below for some
is pupil participation important?
Professor Pamela Munn explains.
"Pupil participation is not pupil power but if we want it to succeed adults must
trust young people, acknowledge their rights and give them a clearly defined role within
the decision making process in schools. The recent Standards in Scotland's Schools Act
ruled that schools should find out what pupils think by setting up consultation bodies
such as pupil councils. This should be done with conviction and not in a spirit of
tokenism. All the evidence suggests that when this right is respected pupils start
to take more responsibility for their own learning, and to contribute more to the
wellbeing of the school community.
That is why
the Ethos Programme, through the Anti-Bullying Network and the Scottish Schools Ethos
Network, is awarding a central place to the theme of pupil participation. The theme will
be explored at events and in case studies published by the Ethos Network and by events
highlighting the central role of pupils in the development of anti-bullying strategies in
|A practical demonstration
|The event in Inverness
Council Chamber Headquarters on 3rd October 2000, attended by around 150 delegates of all
ages, showed that pupil participation really works. Opening the event, Professor Pamela
Munn (Director of the Ethos Programme), Bruce Robertson (Highland's Director of Education)
and Andy Anderson (Chair of Highland Council's Education Committee) linked these themes:
- the framework provided by the Human Rights Act
- the consultation paper on Education for Citizenship
- the importance of an ethos of achievement - everything else
depends on it
- the search for new ideas, such as Highland Youth Voice - a
parliament for young people in the Highlands.
published by Learning & Teaching Scotland is the discussion and consultation paper
'Education for Citizenship'. The paper explores and suggests answers to four main
- What do we mean by citizenship?
- Why is education for citizenship important?
- What should education for citizenship do for
- What does effective education for citizenship
involve in practice?
The paper suggests that Citizenship is about
enjoying rights and exercising responsibilities in the various types of community to which
people belong. Young people should learn the knowledge and skills of Citizenship and
schools should model the practices inherent in participative communities and provide
opportunities to exercise responsible citizenship.
The paper can be obtained from Learning &
Teaching Scotland and is on their website.
Responses and young people's views are invited; these should be returned by the 16th of
Some examples of how pupil participation has been achieved, demonstrated by the young
people involved in the conference in Inverness on October 3rd, 2000.
Participation in School Management' at Inverness Royal Academy
Improvements in school ethos at Inverness Royal Academy have
led to better student/teacher relationships, better inter-class relationships and parents
put at ease. Overall, a feeling of unity and belonging is apparent in the school.
This has been achieved in a number of ways. Sixth year pupils are elected to the school
board, act as a conduit for pupils' views and have been able to encourage feedback from
Board members. Year Councils have been successful with immediate improvements achieved.
The Pupils' Council has been given a budget of £2000 to put ideas into action. A Buddies
Scheme, launched in 1996 has been praised by parents of first year pupils and offers
training for peer support. Pupil involvement in learning has been achieved through the
paired reading scheme, which has provided a confidence boost for younger pupils and a
rewarding experience for sixth year buddies involved.
Contact: John Consadine, Headteacher, Inverness Royal Academy, Culduthel Road,
Inverness, IV1 2AD. Tel: 01463 222 884.
a whole school ethos' at Central Primary School
Pupils at Central have an important role in the running of
the school. Systems set up include the Pupil Council, Peer Mediators, Buddies, Star of the
Week and separate break-times for different pupils.Pupils believe that these systems have
given them a voice, something of what they wanted for the school and more responsibility. Praise is
recognised by a number of different certificates and the pupils support and are ready to
promote the school rules. On the Inverness event, in the pupils' own words: "We all
enjoyed ourselves and had a great day. It was a memorable experience and it was most
heartening to take part in a real debate and prove that pupil participation at Central
Primary is certainly not all talk and no action." Delegates noted that the children
demonstrated a clear understanding of what contributed to a good ethos in their school.
Contact: Ms. Isobel Gilroy, Head Teacher, Central Primary School, Kenneth
Street, Inverness IV3 5DW. Tel: 01463 233 906
Adventures' at Glen Urquhart High School
Glen Urquhart High School planned a trip to the Auvergne for (almost) the whole school in
June 2000. They received assistance from the European Social Fund and some local
sponsorship. Pupils were involved in the planning of the trip (although the Head
Teacher was lucky enough to have the task of filling out 130 E111s at Drumnadrochit Post
Office!) and are all enthusiastic about their experience.
The benefits pupils gained included cementing friendships, making sustainable
links with their hosts, a raised awareness of French culture, improving language skills
with native speakers and they believe the experience "added to school life in a
Contact: Eddie Broadley, Headteacher, Glen Urquhart
High School, Drumnadrochit, IV3 6UG. Tel: 01456 450 243
'Learning for Life' is a values education, life-skills programme for 5 to 13 year olds and
promotes health, safety, personal & social development and
citizenship. Two CD-ROMs contain interactive lessons and other support material.
Contact: Nicola Keith, Project Administrator, Grampian Police, Community
Development Department, 55 Ellon Road, Bridge of Don, Aberdeen AB23 8ET. Tel: 01224
Highland Youth Voice is an elected parliament for the Highlands. Elections have been held
using electronic voting via a website and paper based voting systems. All 29 Highland
secondary schools will have two or three members. These elected representatives will meet
in November to decide how often the parliament will meet, what they want to achieve and to
elect an executive committee. It is envisaged that the youth parliament will have 70 to 80
members including young people from the Youth Forum and young people with special needs.
Contact: For more information look up the lively Highland Youth Voice website.
||You Have a
Voice - Valuing the Student Perspective in Enriching Our Schools
Derek Goldman, the Partnership Officer at Bellshill Academy, led a keynote presentation in
which he outlined the principles of successful pupil participation.
He believes that there must be:
- A culture of collaboration where everyone's ideas are heard
- The sharing of power and responsibility
- "Bottom up" influencing of decisions
- The taking of risks
- A transformational leadership style
- An openness to the possibility of change.
Derek believes that participative approaches have distinct
- Increase a sense of ownership and commitment to schooling
- Aid problem solving and can help to identify opportunities
- Foster a spirit of collaboration
- Improve the moral and self-esteem of staff
- Motivate improvements in student work rate, application and
- Improve the overall ethos of the school.
Students from Bellshill described some of the strategies
being used, which include:
- An anti-bullying programme for S3 pupils being developed with
help from ChildLine
- The XL club for S3 and S4 (Contact Helen Woodhouse at the
Prince's Trust on 0141 204 4409 or email
- A Citizenship Education programme for S5 and S6 students.
Amanda Dallas, Derek Goldman, Brian Latta, Stuart Lonie, Laura Marshall,
Christopher Millar, Gillian Patterson, Billy Ritchie and Debbie Smith gave the Bellshill
Academy keynote address.
Contact: Derek Goldman, Partnership Officer, Bellshill
Academy, North Lanarkshire. Telephone: 01698 841686.
National Centre for Excellence in Traditional Music
This project, based at Plockton High School, is funded by the
Scottish Executive. The project is open to any secondary school pupil in Scotland. At the
moment there are nine students specialising in instruments such as the pipes, the fiddle
and clarsach; it is hoped to increase student
numbers to 20 by next year. Students on the project become residential pupils at Plockton
Contact: Dougie Pincock, Plockton High School, Plockton, Rosshire, IV52
8TU. Tel: 01599 544 372
Scottish Youth Parliament
David Bernard, MSYP for Edinburgh South, explains: "The Scottish Youth
Parliament was established in Edinburgh on 31st June 1999. It offers a political forum in
which young people can have their say through their own Member of the Scottish Youth
Parliament. The Parliament's constitution allows it to meet in full session and to have an
Interim Executive Committee and a number of Policy Working Groups."
Contact: Community Learning Scotland on 0131 313 2488.
Citizenship in Stirling Schools' at Allan's Primary School
Research into awareness of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and a
review of practices in the school led to changes, including the chair of the pupil council
passing to a pupil and the setting up of a focus group looking at the then unpopular
dining room. Pupils are now present at parent interviews - a change well received by staff
who felt that issues were sorted out more quickly. The pupil council was invited to be
part of the recruitment process for a new nursery teacher. Pupils drew up a person
specification, devised questions that were used at interviews, showed potential candidates
around the school and gave feedback to the interview panel. In another initiative, pupils
in the Computer Club set up the school web-site and produced guides for pupils and staff.
They were involved in training teachers in computing skills. This increased pupils'
self-confidence and was well received by teachers.
Contact: Mairi Breen, Head Teacher, Allans Primary School, Spittal Street, Stirling
FK8 1DU. Tel: 01786 474 757
Support at Dunbeg Primary'
Peer Support has been a part of life at Dunbeg Primary School for about four years,
since the success of a pilot programme. Senior pupils are trained at a venue outside the
school and then work alongside a P1 or P2 pupil for one hour per week. Time and resources
are also allocated for personal preparation in class. Activities are varied - arts
and crafts or paired reading for example - and pupils are encouraged to direct their own
activities while the teacher acts as an observer. The benefits can also be seen outside
the classroom - there has been a "wonderful effect" on school ethos and
playground relationships. As new pupils are being supported by the older ones, they in
turn are taking their responsibilities seriously and are more tolerant of each other.
Contact: Sine MacVicar, Head Teacher, Dunbeg Primary School, Etive Road, Dunbeg, By
Oban, Argyll PA37 1QF. Tel: 01631 564 781
talk and no action?
The conference concluded with a debate on the motion "Pupil
Participation is All Talk and No Action." The debate was chaired by Heather Williams;
for the motion were David Bernard of the Scottish Youth Parliament and Neil Ferguson of
Inverness Royal Academy and opposing were Sarah Jane Burns of Glen Urquhart High School
and Tony McCondichie of Bellshill Academy. The provocative motion was soundly defeated but
the debate witnessed excellent contributions from both sides of the house. Young voices
(and some were very young indeed!) demonstrated that pupil participation really works when
it is encouraged.
The Anti-Bullying Network and the Scottish Schools Ethos Network will be again
joining with ADES to organise another major event featuring pupil participation in Glasgow
on June 1st 2001. Any schools or other organisations that are interested in featuring
their work at this event should contact either Network.
Ethos Network Events
Two roadshows featuring pupil participation:
- January 26th 2001 at Trinity Academy - in association with
City of Edinburgh Council
- March 16th 2001 in Larbert - in association with Falkirk
Anti-Bullying Network Events
- January 27th 2001 - A conference for parents - in association
with South Lanarkshire Council
- February 2001 - A conference for teachers
- March 2001 - A conference for young people
How Can we Make our School More Liveable?
March 2001, Haarlem, Netherlands
A 3/4 day conference for students (age 12 to 18) and their teachers from secondary
schools in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Scotland and the Netherlands. The Anti-Bullying
Network will be co-ordinating Scottish participation on behalf of "Peers and Pros".Travel and
accommodation subsidies are available for up to 5 schools.
Contact: Andrew Mellor on 0131 651 6100
Early Years and Beyond: the Grounds for Learning 2000 National Network
23rd November 2000
Contact: Tel: 01786 467864 e-mail: email@example.com
Making a Difference: developing values and
self-esteem through music, art and drama
24th - 26th November 2000
Contact: Living Values Education Programme Tel: 01242 512716,
Introduction to Nonviolence
2nd December 2000
Contact: Scottish Centre for Nonviolence Tel: 01786 824730,
Suliexpo 2001/Schoolexpo 2001: Millennium Opening - International Children's Day
25th - 27th May 2001
Contact: Marianne Elk at the Euro Info Centre 0141 225 6672,
Cowie, Helen & Wallace, Patti
Peer Support in Action - From Bystsanding to Standing By
SAGE Publications, £15.99
A very useful book for anyone involved in establishing a peer support system. Good
practical advice grounded in theory.
A proposal for a Commissioner for Children in Scotland
The Scottish Alliance for Children's Rights, £7.50
Contact: 0131 527 8200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org