Written and updated by the Senior Prefects for School Council.
The purpose of a School Council can vary depending on the specific school and its needs, but it is generally a group of student representatives who work together to improve the school community and represent the student body. Some common purposes of these Councils include:
- Giving students a voice: The School Council provides a platform for students to voice their opinions and concerns about school policies, events, and activities that the school provide to pupils.
- Improving school policies: By giving students a voice, we allow them to collaborate with school administrators such as Mrs White, Miss Clague and Dr Owen via the School Council. This helps improve policies related to student behaviour, academic standards, and other school-related issues.
- Building leadership skills: being part of the School Council provides students with opportunities to develop leadership skills, teamwork, and communication skills and these will be useful throughout a pupil’s academic journey and in later life.
- Appreciating the democratic process: through the School Council structure, pupils learn about the systems of elections and hustings, as well as the power of well written manifestos. They also begin to appreciate the challenges management, and in the wider world, governments, face when making decisions that could make them wholly unpopular.
Our ultimate aim however is to provide a forum that allows us to create a positive and inclusive school community that tries to meet the needs and interests of all pupils.
The School Council Structure here at Stockport Grammar School begins with prompted discussions in form that are facilitated by Form Tutors and Form Representatives. This feedback is then brought to Year Group Meetings with all Form Representatives sharing the points brought forward. Both a member of staff and a Sixth Form School Council Prefect will be present to encourage discussion and brainstorm possible solutions. This discussion is recorded in the Year Group Meeting Minutes which are then sent to all Form Representatives to look over and revise, encouraging them to share and summarise to their individual forms to encourage further opinions on points raised. Once a term there is a Whole School Meeting, in which elected Year Representatives meet with members of the Senior Management Team, including the Head. An agenda is made to narrow down points of discussion and Year Representatives are provided with the opportunity to speak directly to senior staff.
Pupils can become involved by firstly, becoming a Form Representative. At the beginning of each academic year forms are allocated time to briefly share with their class why they would be a good fit to share the form’s ideas. Pupils must demonstrate a willingness to discuss ideas with a small group of people at a time, but it still gives them the opportunity to be involved in the process and communicate with their peers. If that role is one they have enjoyed and wish to explore further, they can run for Year Representative, pitching to their year group in an assembly why they would be the most suitable choice for the role. This then gives them a chance to talk to, and work with, senior members of staff alongside different year groups in the Whole School Council Meeting. Pupils who are identified as going above and beyond for the council during their year can be selected by the Staff Co-ordinators, Miss Chandler and Miss Morgan, to be a Lower School or Middle School Section Representative. They remain part of all the meetings for their section, ensuring continuity year on year. This can assist pupils who decide to apply for Senior Prefect – School Council in the Lower Sixth as they have built up a strong rapport with the staff and understand the system well and they can be involved in further decisions as they have gained experience progressing through school.
What has the Stockport Grammar School School Council achieved in the past few years?
- Hot halal school meals;
- Vending machines (removed following COVID 19);
- Consultation on the new Sixth Form Area including the integration of the café and Starbucks machine;
- Change to the planner provision;
- Incorporation of different design ideas on FROG such as the Wellbeing Portal;
- Changes to the Girls Uniform to include trousers;
- Clocks and scoreboards in the Sports Hall and for the all-weather pitch;
- Ongoing consultation regarding toilets and changing room facilities.
At times, pupils may feel discouraged due to the due process involved with decision processes, but we always believe that most members of the student body appreciate how lucky they are to see their ideas transform from to thoughts to materialistic tangible items which we can use and benefit from. It is important that pupils recognise their collective power they have by using School Council to communicate their desires and concerns to the rest of the school. They should be aware of the seriousness with which many of the requests are dealt.
While School Council plays a huge role within Stockport Grammar School, we are also involved in numerous bodies outside of school that helps make an impact on the wider community, particularly with young people in Stockport. The School Council coordinates with the UK Youth Parliament with their “Make Your Mark” campaign annually. The UK Youth Parliament provides opportunities for 11–18-year-olds to use their voices to bring about change within the community – and we support this through our involvement with the Make Your Mark campaign, where School Council allows pupils at Stockport Grammar to vote on issues they think are the most important, which then get debated by members of Youth Parliament who campaign for these issues to influence the UK Parliament and our local MPs.
We have also worked closely with Stockport Council’s Youth Council, sending representatives from the School to be part of the Extended Youth Council. This aimed to bring together pupils from across the area to discuss issues affecting local schools. The continuation of this was curtailed due to COVID 19 but we have continued to support and motivate those that wish to run for Members of UK Youth Parliament. Joseph Eaton (OS 2023) chose to do this in 2021-2022 and was lucky enough to sit in the House of Commons over the summer during debates on the Make Your Mark issue of the year. Any pupils that have political aspirations are also encouraged to get involved throughout their time in the school to benefit from learning the democratic process School Council uses.