Vandyke Upper School runs an inclusive Student Voice programme.
We recognise that the needs and concerns of students are forever evolving. As a result, we must constantly reflect upon the practice and policies that shape school life. Student involvement is essential to this end. This is “Student Voice”.
We needed an approach that empowers students to realise that their opinions matter, that they can influence change and that they are part of an inclusive community. Effective student voice is an important part of developing a sense of “belonging”.
A new Student Voice procedure has been developed and started in September 2021. We needed a system that can involve all students in some way and we do this through our house system.
Each house has a house council for years 9-11. Each tutor group has had the opportunity to elect/select between 1 and 4 representatives to join the house council. House Councils can comprise around 30 students and hence allow meetings to fit into a classroom. Currently years 9-11 have 73 regular House council members. House council meetings led by Directors of House are calendared and timetabled every half term. Tutors who are not teaching may wish to attend.
The school council meets every half term following house council meetings and these meetings are lead by the Head Teacher and governor(s) when available. The agenda is set by house councils with pastoral staff. All members of the house councils will attend the calendared and timetabled meeting in the theatre. Here, students present to the Headteacher ideas and proposals for our school. The Sixth Form have a Sixth Form senior team for year 12 and 13 and they also attend the school council meeting when available.
The role of the tutor is vital in initiating discussion, valuing the process and closing the loop of discussion and decisions back into tutor groups through fortnightly class meetings in tutor time. A diagram of the structure can be found below. Alongside this structure we will run other groups eg. charities/fundraising.
‘Class Meetings’ involving every student in the school
At Vandyke, every individual student has the opportunity to be heard. At the heart of this, is a timetabled Student Voice discussion / activity called a ‘class meeting’, which is supported by a class meeting software tool for communication and recording discussion and decisions. These class meetings are fortnightly, and feed directly into house and school council meetings. There is a main focus question that students vote on covering worldwide; local and school issues; as well as an opportunity to suggest ways in which we can improve our school.
One lesson every half-term is timetabled for the house councils to meet.
One lesson every half-term is timetabled for the school council to meet.
House council members have been consulted on having a coloured enamel badge to wear to identify them as house reps and reps who have attended consistently now wear these.
Student Voice is a powerful mechanism for constant self-review and a facilitator for positive change in our school. .