Agenda Item No. 6
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 18th May 2015
Report of the Director of Learning and Skills
Audit of School Councils
Purpose of the Report
1. To advise Members of the Biennial School Council Audit (Appendix 1) conducted in August 2014 in the Vale of Glamorgan.
1. That Members note the report of the School Councils' Audit with specific reference to compliance with National Guidance and progress on pupil impact.
Reason for the Recommendation
1. To ensure Members are kept informed about developments.
2. As part of the Welsh Governments (WG) commitment to the implementation of the UNCRC Article 12, specifically the need for all children and young people to be able to express their views on matters that affect them, WG established School Councils as a priority within its policy document 'The Learning Country’, a ten year strategy published in 2001, which embodied the WG vision and actions to transform education and lifelong learning.
3. The "School Councils Wales Regulations 2005" require maintained primary (excluding nursery and infant schools), secondary, and special schools in Wales to establish a School Council from registered pupils.
4. The regulations state that: "The governing body of a school must establish a School Council, the purpose of which is to enable pupils to discuss matters relating to their school, their education and any other matters of concern or interest and to make representations on these to the governing body and the head teacher".
5. School Councils and wider pupil participation play an important role in taking forward the WG policy priorities in education, in particular the School Effectiveness Framework (SEF). 'Learner voice’ is also an area of school life which features as a key element of Estyn’s 'Common Inspection Framework’ launched September 2010.
6. Within the Vale of Glamorgan the Children and Young People’s Programme Board (CYPB) remains committed to driving forward the participation agenda and as part of the Strategy the CYPB is involved in a biennial audit of all School Councils in the Vale of Glamorgan.
7. Previous School Council Audits have been conducted in 2010 and 2012 with very similar findings and recommendations.
8. The data collected from the Audit has been analysed and provides information about changes since 2010 in relation to the running and development of School Councils. The overall feedback from the data suggests that responding schools are complying with WG guidelines on School Councils.
Relevant Issues and Options
9. The Audit was carried out via a questionnaire (Appendix 2) exploring both compliance with statutory requirements and the perceived impact of the School Council. The questionnaire was circulated during June 2014 to all secondary, special and primary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan. 24 questionnaires were returned.
10. The data provided by the schools was then collated, analysed and compared with previous baseline data to establish whether there were any patterns or anomalies and to identify improvements and areas of shortfall.
11. All schools met their legislative requirement of having a nominated School Council teacher, responsible for supervising School Council meetings. All schools have an annual election; with the following exceptions; one school holds an annual election for Year 7 and Biennial election for Year 8 and Year 10; and another school where reception and Year 1 representatives are chosen by the class teacher.
12. The minimum frequency of School Council meetings is once every half term, with many schools having more frequent meetings, (this is in line with WG regulations on how often School Council meetings should take place).
13. All School Councils have an administrative process in place for agenda and minutes.
14. 75% (18) of schools have a Governor link, with all secondary schools having an associated pupil governor.
15. School responses highlight that the number of schools that involve pupils in decisions about the way they learn has increased since 2010, with 50% (3) of secondary schools and 61% (11) of primary schools stating they involved pupils in decisions about the way they learn.
16. 83% (5) of secondary schools involve pupils in decisions about the school environment with one school aiming to achieve involvement of pupils within the next year. All of the secondary schools stated they involve pupils in decisions regarding whole school policies.
17. For primary schools, 94% (17) of the schools involve pupils in decisions about the school environment, while 17% state that they may involve them in decisions regarding whole school policies in the future; 55% (10) of primary schools involve pupils in decisions regarding policies.
18. 75% of all schools involve pupils in staff appointment; only one secondary school stated that it is very unlikely that it will involve pupils in staff appointments.
19. 92% of all schools provide pupils with regular feedback informing them of how the School Council has influenced outcomes. 88% of schools stated that they celebrate the School Council’s achievements and feedback on how it has made a difference to pupils. 67% of secondary School Councils have representation on the Vale Youth Forum with 17% stating that they may have representation in the future.
20. Following the School Council Audit of a primary and a secondary School Council, 'Good Practice Events' have been held to raise awareness and confidence for pupils on what constitutes good participation. During these sessions link teachers were invited to take part on sessions on good practice and exploring how the Local Authority could support schools in developing their School Council.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
21. There are no resource implications as a direct result of this report. All work has been undertaken within existing resources.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
22. School Councils contribute to the sustainable development principle of ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
23. Many schools will have or be working towards being an ECO school, each School Council will be actively involved in various projects related to sustainability and climate change see points noted in 14 and 15.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
24. School Councils Wales Regulations 2005 require maintained primary (excluding nursery and infant schools), secondary, and special schools in Wales to establish a School Council from registered pupils.
25. Estyn’s Common Inspection Framework 2010 notes that 'learner voice’ plays an important role in taking forward WG policy priorities in education.
Crime and Disorder Implications
26. In delivering School Councils children and young people are engaged, listened to and supported to take forward issues of their own and those of their peers. Evidence indicates that children and young people who are actively involved in decisions that affect them are at less risk of negative and anti-social behaviour and reduced risk of entering into criminal activity now and in the future.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
27. Welsh Government guidance on the development of School Councils ensures all children and young people have an equal opportunity to be involved.
28. There is a commitment in the Children and Young People's section of the Corporate Plan, to develop the skills of young people to work with schools to increase opportunities for their involvement in decisions that affect them and giving them a voice. (2014/15).
Policy Framework and Budget
29. The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
30. Not applicable.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
31. Lifelong Learning
Mark Davies, Children and Young People's Partnership Manager
Tina Simmons, Senior Youth Service Manager
Andy Borsden, Lead Officer Youth and Community Learning
Ve Van de Voorde, Youth Participation Officer
Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills