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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 07:06 GMT
'Minor' impact of pupil councils
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All schools have a council to hear the views of their pupils
Pupil councils have had little impact on the running of most Welsh secondary schools, says inspection body Estyn.

In most schools, pupil input is limited to minor improvements in arrangements for uniforms, toilet facilities and meal choices, inspectors found.

Since 2005, there has been an obligation for pupil-led councils to play an active role in schools.

Education Minister Jane Hutt said the report recognised the role of school councils in engaging with young people.

The drive to give pupils a stronger voice in the running of their schools has been a key part of the Welsh Assembly Government's education policy.

The Estyn report found the regulations had strengthened the status of schools councils but only a minority of their meetings were fully chaired and administered by pupils, as teachers often believed pupils did not have the "skills, confidence or maturity to take on leadership roles".

Inspectors found most school councils were under resourced while a few schools failed to respond to the views of pupils.

Our school council has genuinely had some effect - if you were asking me if it has had enough effect, the answer would be no
Head teacher Neil Foden

In a minority of schools, the work of the best pupil bodies had led to improvements in teaching and learning, as their feedback is listened to and acted on, it found.

But only a minority of schools had associate pupil governors, elected by their peers to report to the governing body.

Also no teachers, governors, or pupils had yet used the interactive forum of the Schools Councils Wales website.

The report said: "Only in a few schools is the impact of the school council significant.

"In these schools, pupils are involved in appointing senior staff and they influence decisions about budget allocation and school policies and procedures."

Estyn recommended the assembly government provided more resources for school councils and advice on the role of associate pupil governors.

The school council at Friars Comprehensive School, Bangor, has been recognised as a model of good practice.

It has played a role in health and safety improvements at the school gate, including the relocation of a bus stop.

Head teacher Neil Foden said: "Our school council has genuinely had some effect. If you were asking me if it has had enough effect, the answer would be no.

"We need to work as a school on the link of feeding up of ideas [from pupils] and the feedback of responses."

He said resources was also an issue, both in terms of teachers' time as well as priorities on the school budget.

Ms Hutt said: "The importance of pupil participation is indisputable - now is the time to make this a reality across Wales."



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See pupils describe how school councils have helped them



SEE ALSO
What school citizenship involves
28 Sep 06 |  Education
Pupils' chance to 'evict' council
09 Oct 06 |  North East Wales
School where pupils select staff
08 Mar 06 |  Education

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