We believe that all pupils and students should have a voice in our Academy.
As our pupils have severe and profound and multiple learning difficulties we know we have to plan carefully how we give opportunities to our pupils, who all have communication challenges, and how their views are heard.
We see pupil voice as more than just a student council and we aspire to give all pupils opportunities to give their views and opinions through their learning experiences.
Having a student council does, though, give some students the opportunity to extend their learning experiences, particularly with respect to the democratic process and to their ownership of the Academy and its practices. It enables some students to have a say about their own academy through council meetings and work related exercises.
In the context of the abilities of all our students we need to ensure they have equal opportunities to be heard by staff and leaders. This needs to be either through speech (voicing their opinions), indicators (showing their views through visual choice boards) or through their advocates (staff who know the pupils well and can gives views on behalf of pupils).
The student council enables some pupils to:
Have a platform for communication,
Understand democracy in a simple way,
Take personal responsibility for some representing others and putting their and their peers views forward and
Understand aspects of social and community responsibility.
In order to provide students with a formal voice these are our guiding principles:
All students have a voice, despite disability, and are given formal opportunities in class to exercise their choices and views about their Academy and
Some students represent the views and ideas of their peers and themselves in the council.
In practice School Campus will have a champion for pupil voice (Alex Butler) who oversees the School Campus Council.
The champion for pupil voice on College Campus (Amy Hayes) oversees the College Campus Council.
Each council will be made up of one pupil from each class, who is voted for by their class in a class election. Class teachers use an ‘election sheet’, inputting pupil photos onto the sheet so that all pupils have the opportunity to vote and elect one representative for their Campus Council.
We feel its best for the School Campus Council to be for KS2 and 3 only and College to be KS4 and 5.
The elected pupils attend council meetings every two weeks and meetings are guided by an ‘agenda questionnaire’ which highlights the main areas of discussion about the academy.
Both campuses will follow the same agenda which will be the starting point for all meetings and be overseen by the champions.
It is important that time for ‘Any Other Business (AOB)’ is created in each meeting so that pupils feel they can bring issues that are not on the agenda to the meeting.
The champions for pupil voice keep simple and appropriate records of pupils’ views, often in photo or symbol form, which can be displayed for all pupils to see and passed onto HOL and SLT.
College Campus will have a notice board situated in the Atrium and School Campus will have a noticeboard situated by the school hall.