The Albion High School in Salford (Manchester) had a problem with its school council, as in many schools it was seen as ineffective and so became very unpopular with students. Staff and governors set improving pupil voice as a key priority for the school. With help from Creative Partnerships they have rebranded and reconstituted the school council, which is now known as REGENERATE. It has a significant budget (£30,000) and members of the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) provide direct support.
Having trained a number of Salford school council co-ordinators the other week I was invited to help run REGENERATE’s training yesterday – I was even billed as “Asher Jacobsberg: National Leader on Student Voice and Involvement” which was a bit of an ego massage! The day was opened by the Chair of Governors and the Headteacher, which I feel was really important for them and the students, really creating a link between the key decision-making bodies in the school. My role for the day, as well as running ice-breakers and rounding the day off, was to help the students decide on a strategy for getting the whole-school involved with REGENERATE. For me this always comes down to communication. The best way to start to pique people’s interest is to tell them about what you’re already doing, and encourage them to tell you what they think. Once that’s working, then they’re much more likely to want to move in to taking an active role.
So this is the session I ran with them, and we came up with a really solid communication plan at the end of it. Very importantly each element had someone who would be responsible for it, and a regular date on which it would happen. Some of the ideas that the students came up with and will be taking forward:
- Visit primary schools to tell them about REGENERATE, show they will be listened to at The Albion and find out what they want The Albion to be like when they get there.
- Use social networking sites to spread the word about what REGENERATE is up to.
- Create a REGENERATE jingle for the radio show that they will be recording.
- Make sure that the REGENERATE noticeboards are updated after every meeting, that they are in places where everyone in the school will see them and that they are funny and interesting to look at!
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