Quite simply, it is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, is recognised as an equal stakeholder in our school community. This is achieved in a variety of ways:
• Pupil voice, participation and building positive relationships are an integral part of Birchwood’s vision and ethos (hence it is a Birchwood Bolt)
• Leaders have a clear strategy for promoting participation and for fostering good relationships
• Leaders support and encourage open and honest participation at all levels and scenarios, developing strategic thinking and planning skills.
• Leaders create an ethos where pupils respect the rights of others and understand the importance of democracy, diversity and equality.
• All Birchwood pupils have the right to formally apply for the plethora of pupil roles and responsibilities available. The process for this and the jobs themselves, fully support all five areas of the British Values agenda (democracy, rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance).
There are clear roles and structures in place across the school to capture the views of all pupils on a wide range of issues relating to school improvement. The process is integral to our curriculum design and sequencing. Staff take the views of pupils seriously and act on them. Pupils, staff and governors understand their roles and responsibilities in relation to participation. Leaders can demonstrate the impact of participation in school improvement planning and curriculum design. Pupils make a valuable contribution to school improvement by influencing decisions on wellbeing, learning experiences, improving internal and external environments, the quality of teaching and by helping to identify the school’s future priorities and policy.
Pupils have a breadth of opportunities to participate within and beyond the school to contribute to debate and influence decisions across a wide range of issues that affect them. These opportunities encourage pupils to develop the skills needed to become active citizens:
Pupils apply for these different roles and responsibilities. They complete an application form suggesting how they might ‘fit’ the job description, these applications are shared with different stakeholders and roles are allocated by a vote (e.g. whole school, class, staff). In some instances, peer on peer interviews take place with previous post holders acting as interviewers. Candidates may also be asked to make presentations to their class or to the whole school. Pupils and staff access good quality training and continuous professional development that is well targeted to develop the skills, knowledge and understanding needed to have pupils’ voice heard in discussions and in decision-making. These pupil roles provide opportunities for pupils to engage locally in school, externally in the local community and nationally.
We know that the full impact of our pupil voice opportunities cannot truly be measured until later in life. We know that many ex-Birchwood pupils go on to become ‘head boys and girls,’ authors, national sporting heroes, West End performers and ‘Young Musician of The Year.’ We truly believe the benefits of pupil voice are extensive:
- greater participation in decision making
- improved health and wellbeing
- improved engagement, self confidence and behaviour
- improvements in learning, achievements and school performance
- develop valuable personal and social skills, such as listening, communication, negotiation, prioritising, and working with others
- gain a better understanding of the rights of other members of the school community and of the consequences of actions that affect others
- become better prepared to become ethical, informed and active citizens of modern Britain and of the world
Please click on the above icons to read the children’s own examples of the impact of their role.