We have a whole-school approach to listening to the voices of everyone in the school community. This includes children and young people as well as parents and carers, and school staff.
What is pupil voice it and why is it important at Highbury?
Pupil voice in schools means a whole-school commitment to listening to the views, wishes and experiences of all children and young people. It means placing value on what children and young people tell/show school staff about their experiences.
At Highbury, we ensure that children and are provided with meaningful opportunities to share their experiences, views and hopes about their school. Our pupils need to know that it is safe and that it is important for them to express their views on what happens at school. They need to know that what they say is valued and will be listened to and considered.
At Highbury one of the most important aspects of pupil voice is teaching children how to communicate in a way which is meaningful to them.
Not all of our pupils use spoken language to communicate and so we teach using a total communication approach so that we can offer children a menu of tools. All classes operate on this model and will teach using signing, symbols/visuals, sound cues, touch cues, text and specialist alternative/augmentative communication approaches.
As part of our RSE curriculum, children are taught how to make safe choices and how to communicate that choice to others.
There are times in the year when we formally gather pupil voice. One of these times is as part of their annual review when children are asked (in an appropriate way to them) about their experiences at school.
We hold regular parents’ evenings and use surveys to ascertain parents and carers views throughout the school year.
At Highbury we are proud to have pupil representatives that take part in regular School Council meetings. The School Council is in place so that all pupils have a voice and are involved in decisions about the school that directly affect them and are meaningful to them.
Pupils at Highbury know that this is their school and that their thoughts and ideas matter. The role of each School Council member is to collect the views and ideas from children across school in order to reach democratic decisions. Each School Council member is given a badge and a book bag which will contain notes from each meeting held. This will enable their work and decisions to be fed back to classes.
How are the School Council members elected?
At the beginning of each year, two children from each class are nominated for School Council. Campaign posters are then created for each child, showing their photo and stating why they would be good in the School Council. A whole school assembly will be held showcasing each candidate and explaining the voting process to the children.
Back in class, every child will then vote for one of their classmates to become a member of School Council. The voting process uses photos (a choice of 2) and ballot boxes. The ballot boxes will be taken to Mrs Sweet and counted carefully before the results are revealed. The School Council members will change each year.
What decisions might they be involved in?
The School Council will discuss issues that directly affect them, some examples include:
- What is their favourite pudding at lunch time?
- Which stickers should we use for Star of the Week?
- What places do you like / not like in school?
- Helping to employ new staff
- Deciding on school trips and visitors for school topics
Depending on each child’s needs, these decisions may be made from observations (expressing a preference), switches, simple choices offered or a conversation between the children.
Last year, the School Council helped to organise a range of fun events such as the Halloween disco, pumpkin competition and school fair. They also were involved in contributing ideas to the development of the garden school.