Democratic Education: Schools
Secondary Schools: Examples
Name of School: George Mitchell School
School’s web address : www.gmschool.co.uk
Type of school: 11-16 Mixed Comprehensive School
Number of students: 600 students on roll
Location: London (Waltham Forest)
Our Student Voice work falls into four discrete but interlinked strands. Our Prefects and our Student Parliament/School Council are, at present, unremarkable - although they serve us very well, and have even bigger ideas for the future. However, we have two flagship initiatives which have already garnered significant interest from schools and young people's organisations locally, nationally and internationally.
Making Learning Better
This initiative involves a large team of learning consultants whose functions include:
- regular and frequent lesson observation and feedback;
- attendance at all staff meetings, training and INSET days;
- recruitment and appointment of all new staff.
MLB consultants have an unprecedented level of power and influence over Teaching for Learning at George Mitchell School, and their objective is to do all they can to ensure every lesson provides all students with an enjoyable learning experience. Their expertise is growing all the time, and they have become an indispensable tool not only in improving T4L but also in raising attainment across the board.
We have reached a point where so much of MLB is taken for granted by our students, to the extent that they assume every school must have similar practices, and this seems to be one of the markers of its success - that our students think genuine consultation and a powerful student voice are (or at least should be) the NORM.
There are almost 40 students heavily involved in MLB - from across the age and ability range - and interest in joining is higher than ever. MLB is fuelled by the passionate belief that, as 'consumers' of the learning process, students are, to a large extent, the experts in this field.
Fighting Against Bullying (FAB)
FAB started several years ago as a peer counselling service within the school, aimed at helping both bully and victim to recover from the experience. Increasingly, however, FAB has been determined to do as much prevention as cure, and they now work proactively to educate staff and students about the phenomenon of bullying and how to protect against it.
A winner of the prestigious Diana award, FAB has gained an international renown, recently participating in a video conference with young people from Ireland and the USA. The FAB team also work closely with Childline, and have, effectively, become expert 'consultants' for the charity. They have also been involved training teachers and students from across London.
FAB includes students from Years 7-11, is as diverse a group of people as the school as a whole. They meet regularly to discuss issues arising and to plan their strategic direction.
Perhaps most important about both these initiatives is their timescale (or lack of it). We are very much makING learning better, and fightING against bullying, but neither of these objectives will ever be achieved entirely. The nature of both lies in the fact that neither will ever be superfluous, and both will remain an essential part of making our school the special place it is - with the students as principal architects.
To find out more about either of these two initiatives, please visit any of the following links:
Or, alternatively, email Matthew Savage (Assistant Headteacher i/c Student Voice) at email@example.com.