Batley Girls' High School
Country: England, United Kingdom
Embedding Whole-School Student Voice
Working language during the project:
Themes of the Council of Europe campaign “FREE to SPEAK, SAFE to LEARN - Democratic Schools for All” covered:
- Making children’s and students’ voices heard
- Addressing controversial issues
- Preventing violence and bullying
- Dealing with propaganda, misinformation and fake news
- Tackling discrimination
- Improving well-being at school
Competences from the Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (CDC) addressed and where / how they were integrated:
At the heart of this project is the value of respect for self, respect for others and respect for education. Through the project we will establish a clear set of respect protocols to ensure that all students are able to fully participate and contribute to discussions in a safe and respectful environment.
- Valuing human dignity and human rights
Teaching of Human Rights education through our Citizenship, PSHCE and Holistic Curriculum will form an essential basis of this project.
All students will have a series of taught and skills development sessions on the value of empathy and how to develop it. These will consist of assemblies, taught sessions through the PSHCE curriculum and key workshops.
Target group age range:
Level of education:
- Lower secondary education
- Upper secondary education
Short description of the project:
This project aims to build a fully democratic and inclusive school where all students are represented in democratic processes and have a voice in shaping the ethos and principles of the school. This will incorporate student representation at Local Governing Body and Leadership level, in policy review processes and through Student Leadership and School Council activities. Staff and students will work together to establish the core principles of our democratic school and these will be clearly communicated, both internally and externally, as fundamental to the school’s ethos. An Equality and Diversity Group will be established and will meet six times per year. This will be an open access group where all students within the school community have an opportunity to fully participate.
A number of key events will be established and delivered on an annual basis. These will include:
- A Question Time event where students will form part of the panel alongside Members of the British Parliament.
- The school will establish ongoing debating activity and discussion groups and will commit to entering teams in Debating and Mock Trial events.
- Linking activities such as ‘Carry My Story’ and the ‘Journeys Project’ where students are able to connect to community organisations and to other schools in order to develop their knowledge and understanding of the world.
All students in the school will also participate in a ‘mock General Election’ event to coincide with the UK General Election on 12th December. This will include delivery of taught lessons for all students on the democratic process and the UK electoral system. All students will have an opportunity to discuss and debate the policies of the different parties and will participate in a voting exercise on Election Day.
In addition, our Environmental Action Group of students will continue to run their campaign and we will commit to supporting and facilitating this wherever possible. We will also help to empower a number of other nascent student action groups including ‘Votes at 16’ and ‘Women and Leadership’.
We will work with a number of key partners to support this work and to enable our students to engage at a local, regional, national and international level. These will include six Universities, The British Council, The UK in a Changing Europe, Young Citizens, NECE and any other organisations who are willing to engage with our young people and add value to our work.
A steering group will be established to drive this agenda forward – this will consist of Student Representatives, Governor Representatives, members of the School Leadership Team and key members of staff.
- To embed student representation at all levels of decision making.
- To empower students to have a sense of ownership of their school and to enable all students to make a contribution to the current and future direction of the school.
- To enable all students to feel included, safe and respected within the school community.
- To enhance our students understanding of local, regional, national and global contexts, debates and issues.
- To ensure that all our students have a voice and are confident that they are able to make a contribution.
We would anticipate that our students feel increasingly empower and engaged and have a greater sense of autonomy and ownership over their capacity to learn, engage and change. We would also expect that all our students feel that they have improved their knowledge and awareness of political and democratic processes in the UK. We will collect data at the start and end point to ascertain whether we have established a culture change through this initiative.
As outlined above, increased structural and systematic representation of student voices.
Challenges you faced
This is a major, whole-school initiative which will require energy and commitment from all stakeholders. We will also need to have a clear communication strategy which includes all members of our school community, parents and families and a number of key external partners.
Time-frame of the project:
- November 2019 to July 2021
Council of Europe materials on citizenship and human rights education used while preparing or implementing your practice:
- Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture
- Living Democracy - manuals for teachers
- Democratic governance of schools
- Addressing violence in schools through EDC/HRE
- All Different – All Equal
- Managing controversy
- Teaching controversial issues-training pack
- Human Rights and Democracy Start with Us – Charter for All
- How all Teachers Can Support EDC/HRE: A Framework for the Development of Competences