It is proposed that every school participating in the Democratic Schools Network (DSN) makes the following checklist available online to teachers, students and their parents, after appropriately adjusting it to its level and priorities, so that it can be discussed in their meetings or possibly linked with a poll (checking from time to time the level of their satisfaction) and/or with a comments’ form, collecting their opinion on how the school manages to achieve its goals.
The checklist includes 11 thematic categories and reference to selected indicative functions and practices. These may differ in primary or secondary schools and should be considered according to every school level.
Democratic school governance – School Regulations
Procedures guaranteeing transparent and inclusive democratic decision-making by school authorities; establishment and revision of school rules and regulations with the contribution of school community members (teachers, students, parents), respecting everyone’s personality and opinion; listening to the opinion of students and respecting their dignity when pedagogic measures are taken; safeguarding the right of everyone for submission and fair examination of a complaint.
Teachers’ communication, training and support to adopt democratic practices
Regular organisation of teachers’ pedagogic meetings, discussing issues connected with school life, school climate, environment, rules and students’ participation; training and empowering teachers to promote democratic principles and practices with their students.
Democracy in the classroom
Promoting participatory and interactive learning methods, involving teamwork and enhancing the active role of students in the process of learning, in lessons’ planning and evaluation; supporting vulnerable and disabled students to equally participate in school life and encountering their challenges; including in lessons and in related activities, human rights and democratic citizenship education, media and information literacy, health and sexuality education, respect of diversity, addressing controversial issues, sensitising on environmental issues, etc.
Students’ assemblies and councils
Securing dialogue among students on rules and objectives connected to school life and environment; training students, supporting and empowering them in regularly operating class assemblies and students’ councils, including online communications when appropriate; entrusting coordinating roles to students and assigning responsibilities, in accordance with their age and maturity; including students’ councils and representatives in planning school activities and in taking decisions on crucial issues.
Information sharing and opinion exchange
Promoting regular face-to-face as well as online information sharing among school community members about decisions taken, activities organised and other issues of school life; expressing and exchanging opinions on crucial issues connected with school life in various forms (school magazines or blogs, open debates, surveys, questionnaires, polls, etc.); discussing controversial issues in a respectful way, promoting empathy and countering hate speech.
Co-organising cultural, recreational and sport activities
Organising experiential activities and workshops, in the context of or separately from formal school lessons, involving students in their planning and in evaluation; promoting free expression and development of students’ ideas, sentiments and talents, their mental and physical exercise and their teamwork spirit; planning and implementing cultural and sport events, celebrations and school trips, actively involving both teachers and students, and, when needed, the contribution of parents.
Preventing and tackling discrimination and violence
Organising systematically activities for effectively preventing and addressing all forms of discrimination and violence, including cyber-bullying and aggressive behaviour taking place outside school among members of the school community; promoting intercultural exchange and dialogue; training groups of students in mediation; promoting peaceful resolution of conflicts with the contribution of mediating teachers and peer students.
Securing wellbeing of students
Provision of care in collaboration with appropriate health and welfare services; organise preventive and informative campaigns and projects to promote healthy nutrition and way of living, to prevent the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and drugs; provide counselling to vulnerable children in need and their parents.
Relating with local communities
Organising activities to link schools with their local communities, services, initiatives, needs and events; promoting volunteer and humanitarian initiatives; sensitising school communities on environmental, cultural, social and health challenges of their neighbourhoods; researching and tackling prejudices and stereotypes on local community issues.
Exchanges and networking
Organising exchanges with other schools at local, national or international level, with the active involvement of teachers, students and, as appropriate, their parents. Participating in networks, online exchanges, study visits and common events.
Promoting parental involvement in supporting school life, using democratic principles and practices in decision-making; collaborating with school authorities and teachers; organising trainings for positive parenting and counselling.