Following a visit by Hannah from Barnados we- and all schools from Cardiff- were invited to a special 'Grand' meeting of School Councils. Since 2006 every school by Law has to have a School Council but they vary considerably in how effective they are or if they meet at all.
Last year our Ambassadors had written and e-mailed every School Council in Cardiff asking for their thoughts on the fact they had to pay to access Cardiff Castle. Only Lansdowne Rd School Council replied, sadly many just did not even get the message. The Ambassadors suggested that there should be some way that the school councils could work together or at least have some way of effectively communicating. So we were really excited to hear something was being done.
As we arrived down the bay, pupils were given a different coloured band and then split up into groups. Each had a volunteer adult and they all played a few games so that they got to know everyone in their group.
There were lots of different activities such as a penalty kickout, cake decorating, mask making, badge making, scrap and the graffiti banner that were just for fun and team building. The teams rotated around these throughout the day, there were also two workshops downstairs, one on 'Children's Rights' and one on 'Participation'.
The participation workshop asked us if we knew about 'PARTICIPATION STANDARDS' we all shrugged our shoulders but nearly all of us recognised the poster. Kate and Lee questioned us about who we could speak to and who we did not feel we could speak to, such as police, doctors teachers and head teachers.
Keith Towler came along and listened to what the children had to say in the Children's Rights workshops. Later on he addressed the whole group and got them to shout out loud, before he told them how important it is that they do exercise their right under "Article 12 of the UNCRC" and make their voices heard about issues that concern them. You can see a short and rather shakey video of his talk here.
At the end of the day as many schools were leaving Sid Sloane from CBBC came and hosted an interactive vote. The councillors were given special handsets on which they could vote on a series of questions posed to them such as, "Do youenjoy being in the school Council?" "Do you want to meet like this termly or annually?" "What was your favourite activity during the day?"
The results were then counted by the PC and converted into a nice bar chart for us to clearly see projected on the back wall.
Some of the schools had been invited to design a logo for the event and there was a little presentation for those involved with that.
The children all had nice goodie bags with T-shirts and Caps etc in.
On the way back the children discussed what they had learnt and what they could do to make the event better (They want another event.) And what they could put in the weekly newsletter & this webpage to tell everyone else at the school about what we had learnt today.
"I made some good new friends."
"I enjoyed voting, but it would have been nice if we could have got to ask some questions too."
"I did not like lunch, there was no food there that I liked, and the pineapple was not cut up."
"I enjoyed the scrap play best even though it got voted the least popular activity."
Mr Jones the adult who took us wanted us to have had more learning or at least themed the fun events to include messages on participation, "Design a cake/badge to encourage pupils to tell you their opinions"
but all agreed "I really had a lot of fun."
You can see some snaps of the Eco-Schools Conference last term in which the children in the environmental clubs at the schools all got to havetheir say and debate in Tŷ Hywel the building opposite this one. It would be great if next time the School Councils could get involved in setting an agenda and think of some questions that they want answered.
What would you ask? What do you think the School Councils should be discussing? If you know then remember to tell the School Council.