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”.
We have a thriving Student Voice system that involves all students in some way, and we will do this in 2023 - 2024 using year group councils, and our whole school council (please see diagram below).
There is council for each of the Years 9-11. Each tutor group has the opportunity to elect/select between 1 and 4 representatives to join the Year Council. Councils can comprise around 30 students and hence allow meetings to fit into a classroom. In 2022/2023 there were 84 regular attendees at the council meetings, and we aim to increase these numbers in 2023/24. Year council meetings led by DOY are calendared and timetabled every half term. Tutors who are not teaching may wish to attend.
The Whole School Council meets every half term following Year council meetings and are lead by the Head Teacher and governor(s) when available. The agenda is set by Year Councils with pastoral staff. All members of the Year 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 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.
Alongside this structure we will run other groups such as our newly formed Eco Committee.
‘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.
Below you will find the results of the discussions during the last four Class Meetings.
8th November 2023
18th October 2023
4th October 2023
20th September 2023
One lesson every half-term is timetabled for the Year councils to meet, and one lesson every half-term is timetabled for the Whole School Council to meet.
School Council members wear an enamel badge that also signifies the house they are in.
House competitions are organised across Year Groups.
Student Voice is a powerful mechanism for constant self-review and a facilitator for positive change in our school.