This part of the site is all about pupil participation in Wales!
You can find out:
- what pupil participation is,
- why it’s important, and
- what it can do for you and your school community.
There are also lots of resources to help you do pupil participation better.
What is Participation?
What is Participation?
Participation literally means ‘taking part’. As used on this web-site, however, participation is about you - children and young people in Wales - having a voice when decisions are being made that affect you, and being actively involved in making decisions.
This right is set out in Article 12 of the United Nation Convention on Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
In 2004 the Welsh Assembly Government ran a competition to explain what Participation means in a way that would be easy to understand for adults and young people. The winning ‘sound-bite’ was: "Participation means that it is my right to be involved in making decisions, planning and reviewing an action that might affect me. Having a voice, having a choice".
We have also developed National Children and Young People’s Participation Standards in Wales. These are the things that organisations have to do when involving children and young people in making decisions or asking for your ideas.
The 7 Standards are:
- Information - which is easy for children and young people to understand;
- It’s Your Choice - enough information and time to make good choices;
- No Discrimination - every child and young person has the same chance to participate;
- Respect - Your opinion will be taken seriously;
- You get something out of it - You will enjoy the experience;
- Feedback - You will find out what difference your views have made;
- Improving how we work - Adults will ask you how they can improve how they work for the future.
Having a Voice!
Having a Voice!
There should be lots of ways for you to have a voice in your school. One of these is through consultations.
A consultation happens when people want to know your views about a new policy or something that will affect your life. Sometimes consultations ask for your ideas too – for instance, your local council might ask you to suggest what leisure activities you would like in your area. Taking part in consultations helps to make sure that services are more effective, because they meet your needs, not what adults think you need!
In your school, adults might ask for your views in several ways – for instance:
- surveys or questionnaires;
- focus groups: these are small groups where you can discuss your opinions or ideas informally;
- suggestion boxes.
If this is not happening in your school, ask your school council representative to raise this in a meeting. Remember that – if people ask for your views – you should find out what happens as a result! You might not get what you want, but people should at least tell you why decisions were made.
What is a School Council?
What is a School Council?
A school council is a group of pupils elected by their fellow pupils to represent their opinions and raise issues with your headteacher and governors in the school.
The school council can also take forward projects on behalf of the pupils, and be involved in planning and things like the School Development Plan, governing body meetings and interviewing staff.
To be effective, the school council must:
- Represent all pupils and include as many people as possible
Take time to listen to all pupils and communicate their views
- Feed back to pupils about what happened about their views
- Make things happen – or explain why they can’t!
Top tips for an Effective School Council
Make sure that:
- elections are fair and open everyone is represented (e.g. through co-options)
- there are different ways for people to give their views (e.g. class time, suggestion boxes, questionnaires, focus groups…)
- training is in place
- there is effective communication so that people know what happens to their suggestions and ideas
- you see results!
If you choose to participate, it’s important that you are supported and helped to develop the skills you need to do this well.
Here are some of the people who may be able to help you:
- Your teacher: he / she will know you well and may be able to support you – e.g. if you wanted to stand for election;
- The school council link teacher: he / she is responsible for the school council, but may have a broader role to encourage participation across the school;
- A senior member of staff / your headteacher: they may be able to help you to make things happen, and should listen to your ideas;
- A member of the governing body: there may be one person on the governing body who has a responsibility for participation;
- Your parents / carers: remember to tell your parents / carers about the things you are involved in in school, so that they can support and encourage you.
These people may also be able to help you to get training so that you feel more confident and skilled in your role. If you’re not sure about this, ask!
Participation isn’t just about people asking for your opinions. In your school there should be a variety of things you can get actively involved in if you want to .
Apart from the school council, some of these are:
- groups to make suggestions about how to make teaching and learning better;
- healthy schools;
- peer mentors or ‘Buddies’;
- School Nutrition Action Groups (SNAG)
The advantage of belonging to groups like these is that you get to make a difference to life in school – for yourself and others. This can be very satisfying.
Playing an active role in groups also helps you to develop self-confidence and important skills such as:
- Getting your point across;
- Organising and budgeting skills;
- Working in a team.
Of course, you don’t have to get involved! It’s important that you have a choice – but we hope you’ll find that participation can be fun and that you get lots out of it!
Young Wales is the central place for children and young people's voice in Wales. Young Wales is about listening to you and empowering your voice. Whether you’re an individual, part of a school, a youth forum or a national organisation we want to help you share your activities and your voice. If you’re not involved in a particular group you can still let us know what you think.
For more information visit: youngwales.wales