On the 8th February two pupils attended the second Cardiff Grand Primary School Council meeting organised by Barnado's. Lots of the Council wanted to attend so we had to draw names.
All the primary schools in Cardiff were invited to send two pupils to the gathering so that they could exchange ideas and get used to working together and representing their fellow pupils. We also got to work on the development of Cardiff’s Participation Strategy.
We were put into groups with Charlie as our 'chaperon' would would look after the purple group throughout the day. We sat in a circle and played a few ice breaker games to get to know the other pupils. After a while we each had to say about what the school council was doing in our school. It was nice to hear our pupils say that "All the pupils felt that they had made a difference at their school." All schools have to have a School Council by law, but sadly there is huge variation in how effective they are allowed to be from school to school.
You can see last years event by clicking on the photo RIGHT.
One of our first sessions was was at the Re-createworkstation where we had to make a model of a Cardiff Landmark we were shown photos of various options such as City Hall, The Millennium Stadium and Centre, Cardiff Castle but we voted for the Scott Memorial at Roath Park Lake. You could tell it was our first session as we all worked in our schools rather than together as we would have later in the day.
You can see one of us at Re-create's building at the Ely Bridge Industrial estate when we called in after visiting the CardiffFoodbank to drop off the donations.
The next workstation was the graffiti banner and we had to write on one side "Things we need to be a good councillor" and on the other side "Things we like d about being at the meeting today"
We also got to vote on what style of questionnaire we liked from 4 options. "Some looked a bit boring and difficult to complete some looked too childish." Once we had looked at each we put a bead into the corresponding pot, some of them looked so easy and inviting to fill in that some other pupils started to fill it in and answer the questions in it!
Our next sessions was with Lee Paterson (who used to work at North Ely Youth Centre) and some of "Cardiff's Participation and Active Involvement Team." We drew an outline of one of us then we wrote what qualities we needed to be a good listener on the inside of the outline. On the outside we wrote what qualities we thought would make people bad listeners.
Later on Keith Towler told us that the group he saw said that "Muggers and Criminals make bad listeners"( well when you say stop stop do they listen!!) and so were politicians "as they only wanted you to listen to what they were saying."
They asked us things like "Do you get a choice in the way you learn?" We told them about our integrated afternoons where we do just that. But some of the questions like "Do you understand the information you are given?" were a bit trickier because "We did not understand the question!"
We went downstairs for lunch in the canteen. "It was chicken breast nuggets or breaded cheddar nuggets, sausage rolls sandwiches and crisps. There was lots of apples and other fruit but all the grapes had gone. There was not much we liked."
After lunch we got to have a go on the Bouncy castle. It has the different aspects of the Participation Standards.
We had a go at kicking the football in the net which was fun and could have a bag of freshly popped popcorn.
Obviously the reason we were taken out of class to come here was to learn and we took lots of notes throughout the day so that we could effectively report back about our ideas.
The last session was with Sophie and she reminded us about the different roles of the School Council such as the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary. We also had some trickier questions on things like what the Apologies, agenda, minutes and AOB were.
We then drew another figure and inside it we had to draw what are the benefits of having a School Council. All the children came up with the usual messages about anti bullying and making the school a nicer place for everyone. But they then started to think about all their fund raising activities and the benefits to the local community. Not least of all of course are all the really useful skills that they get on running meetings, organising events and presenting back in Assembly and to their class.
When our pupils returned to school they told Miss Allen about their day then asked if they could report back in Assembly the next day on what they had learnt. In the end they decided to call another School Council meeting lunchtime the very next day to report back on what they had done and importantly what they would like to do. This includes working with the pupils at the AMAF school to set up an effective School Council and pupils voice there. It's a very different culture and they had very strict attitudes towards children so it's a challenging idea.
Miss Clissold went along to that meeting and was very impressed with the "initiative and enthusiasm of the pupils". Look out in the weekly newsletter and on the School Council notice board for more announcements.
At the end of the session the children's Commissioner for Wales Keith Towler, gave a little talk and thanked the children for their work.
Afterwards he shook the children's hands said hello and asked them a few questions. Both the children seemed really surprised not at his questions but at the fact that he was listening to their answers -it is not what grown ups normally do.
Maybe we should be sending more adults to these courses!
We all gave a huge heart felt cheer as a thank you to Hannah at Barnardo's Cymru for organising this event and all the team that took part and supported it. (she went bright red!) We all really enjoyed it and got a lot out of the event today.
Of course Barnardo's does an awful lot of good work in our community everyday supporting our children. Barnardo’s Ely Families Project on the Grand Avenue is well known and respected too.