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What is a school council?

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Simply, a school council is a group of pupils who represent all the pupils in a school.

Sometimes these are given different names: student council, pupil council, learner council, student forum, school senate are among the many we've come across. In Scotland a school council can be the name of something similar to a governing body in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - it's made up of parents, the headteacher and other adults - so councils made up of pupils are often called pupil councils.

There are no rules about exactly what a school council should do, how often it should meet or how big it needs to be (although in Wales there are minimum standards set by law), how it functions should be governed by what it aims to do: represent the views of all pupils.

Typically school councils are formed by each class voting for a representative or two to sit on the school council. In larger schools, class elect representatives to sit on a year council, the year council then elects people to sit on the whole school council. How well this structure allows everyone in the school to participate depends on communication between the school council and the rest of the school.


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    • Asher

      We’d love to give you some better ideas, but what kind of ideas do you want? Are you looking for a better way to run your school council or better things for it to do, or something else?

  1. Lauran

    Please could you tell me how many primary schools have a pupil council in England? And what percentage of schools/teachers/pupils deem them to be effective? thank you

    • Asher

      Two great questions, Lauran.

      The best data we have on them is from Geoff Whitty and Emma Wisby’s research for the Department for Education in 2007, so whilst it’s not that recent, our experience shows that the figures haven’t changed significantly.
      At that time 92% of primary schools in England had school council (see page 115)
      You can draw some conclusions about what pupils and teachers think of their effectiveness from pages 41-45. There is no one answer, it partly depends on what you consider to be effective.
      Hope that’s useful.

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