Student Leadership and Student Voice
At Braunton Academy we believe ‘Student Leadership’ is one of the central strands of student achievement. Learning is not something that is done to us; it is a collaborative process with adults and young people working in partnership.
We believe that the more engaged students are in their Academy, the more likely they are to learn and succeed. Our objectives to achieve this are as follows:
- To help all staff, non-teaching staff, governors and parents acknowledge and value the views of students.
- For students to play an active role in the everyday running of the school.
- To bring students together across all Year Groups.
- To help students to develop skills and build confidence and self esteem.
- To benefit the school as a whole by improving the quality of life for all members of the school community.
In the past, ‘Student Voice’ has often been about “Non-uniform Day” or “the toilet facilities”. At Braunton Academy, we want that to be extended into the working detail of our Academy as a whole. We want our students to be involved in conversations about teaching and learning, about supporting and enriching each other’s lives. We want students to take an active role in supporting other’s learning and in shaping the student experience both within and outside of our community. We want as many students as possible to be able to take on a leadership role across our Academy:
Year 11 Academy Officers – Our Head Boy, Head Girl, Deputy Head Boy and Deputy Head Girl
This is the most senior responsibility in the Academy. Every May/June, four Year 10 students are selected by staff and their peers for these prestigious positions. The students meet regularly with the Principal and act as a conduit between senior staff and students. The Officers have been involved in many areas of academy life. They help run the Student Councils. They have spoken to prospective parents/carers at Open Evenings and addressed the Year 11 Awards Ceremony. They have taken part in staff interviews and regularly make themselves available to all students in order to feel they know what is happening “in the school yard”. The officers also attend the Full Governing Body meetings reporting on student issues of the time. The Officers can be identified by the distinctive claret trim on their blazers.
Year 11 Prefects:
The Year 11 Prefects are a large group of students (approx. 50-60 in number) who want to be involved in shaping the student experience at our Academy. Any one in Year 10 can apply for a Prefect role, which involves filling in an application form, attending an interview and successfully completing a training course. Prefects will then be assigned to a specific duty/role whilst still ensuring a Prefect’s main focus remains on his/her own progress. Currently Prefects support learning in most areas of the Academy. They help run clubs; listen to the younger students read; assist members of the leadership team, and this year they will also be monitoring Year/House Group bases. Prefects can be seen wearing their House Colour trim on their blazer breast pocket.
Year 11 Mental Health Ambassadors
The Mental Health Ambassadors are a new addition to the school and were due to be trained at the end of year 10. Unfortunately, the school had to closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic and so their training is ongoing.
Year 10 Reading Partners:
Year 10 students are invited to act as a Reading Partner for a younger student as part of our ‘Reading Together’ programme which runs throughout the year. This is a highly responsible post which requires commitment, maturity and interpersonal skills. Year 10 students receive training before they begin working with their partner and are shown how to:
Discuss book choices; Monitor daily reading; Ask appropriate questions; Encourage and support the younger students.
Students will commit to one or two tutorial sessions per week over the course of Year 10 thereby making a substantial contribution to the life of the school community. This post is excellent preparation for the role of Prefect in Year 11 and many Reading Partners have successfully progressed to this leadership role as a result of the skills they have developed during the ‘Reading Together’ programme.
Year 9 Peer Mentors:
The name “Mentor” comes from ancient Greek and is about two people working together to sort out problems and giving support. ‘Peer Mentoring’ is also about working with others to build up a relationship of trust and respect. All students have the opportunity in Year 9 to apply for the role of a Peer Mentor. This role gives the successful candidates a flavour of responsibility. Following initial training, the successful candidates are expected to help the tutor, this has in the past included mentoring the new Y7 students in September and helping them settle into our environment so that they experience a smooth transition. Peer mentors are also involved in helping at our Parents’ and Open Evenings, greeting and guiding parents. Peer mentors get to meet the new Y7 students each July during Induction Day. During the past year, Peer mentors have been involved in a variety of other activities including helping out at lunchtime clubs and our Y7 trip to Pinkery.
Year 9 Sports Leaders:
These are a group of students who want to be involved in leading and volunteering in sport. Any one in Y9 can be a Sports Leader. They have a leadership book which they use to collect the hours that they have been a Sports Leader. Pupils can use community sporting activities as well as school based activities. In school, they can help with House activities, Primary School festivals, extra-curricular clubs and sporting activities held in our Primary schools. Sports Leaders receive a sweatshirt when they have collected 35 hours and then bronze, silver and gold certificates as they increase their hours.
Year 7 Academy Ambassadors/KS3 Student Buddies:
At Braunton Academy we take the transition from primary school to secondary school very seriously. We know how much work teachers and parents do in order to make the move as smooth as possible. In order to support Y7 in their first term at school, who better to offer guidance and support, if needed, than students who have been through exactly the same experience only the year before? We call these ‘KS3 Student Buddies’ and ‘Y7 Academy Ambassadors’. In the past, they have written letters to the Year 6 in the summer before they start at our Academy. They attend their previous Primary School with the Principal to meet, talk with and reassure our prospective, new students; they have performed at the Year 6 Open Evening to parents, students and staff and they have modelled the new Academy Uniform.
All Year Groups - The Student (School) Councils:
Our Year and School Councils meet once every half term. Two students (one male and one female) from every Tutor Group represent their own ‘Tutor’ on their Year Council. The students are elected to the Year Council by their peers. The Year Council meets - usually with their Head of Year present - to discuss and sort out any issues or problems that have been identified by either themselves or their classmates. These may include issues around school lunches, behaviour, or ideas for fun events and/or fundraising events. Members of the Year Council will be responsible for carrying out the ideas that have been agreed, and this includes, of course, taking whole school issues and ideas from their own Year Councils and feeding them into the whole School Council. The students are elected to the School Council by their Year peers. The School Council meets - usually with the Assistant Headteacher (Student Support and Guidance) of the School - to discuss and sort out any ideas, issues or problems that have been identified by the Yeare Councils. The School Council will usually be managed by the four School Officers (Head Boy and Head Girl, Deputy Head Boy and Deputy Head Girl) who will undertake the responsibility of the following roles: Chair; Vice-Chair; Secretary; Minutes Secretary.
Decisions made within School Council can, and do, have a real impact on the rest of the school.
At Braunton Academy, we believe time and effort needs to be spent in preparing for a role as important as the student voice. Various training opportunities are presented to the School Council members, ranging from Reading Partners to Anti-Bullying Ambassadors. The training enables students to feel confident about their role within our learning community. So far, the School Council has worked on creating a new medical centre within the Academy, establishing more water fountains, and developing a Debating Club.
As with all roles of responsibility, the School Council members are recognisable by the House coloured shield on their blazers.
How do I get involved in Student Leadership? We are always keen to recruit as many students as possible who want to contribute to school life. Ask these questions:
Are they proud of their Academy?
Can they see themself as a role model?
Do they want to take an active role in their learning?
Can they listen as well as speak?
Do they have something to say?
If the answer is “YES” look out for Student Leadership opportunities. They will be publicised in Assembly, Tutor Time and on the House Noticeboards. We look forward to hearing from you.
Learning about the democratic process locally and nationally.
The UK Youth Parliament is a great example and our students regularly cast their votes in this important opportunity. For more detailed information about the benefits of student voice with regard to school improvement please follow the link to The British Youth Council. For further information about getting involved in the UK Youth Parliament, or find out more about having your say please visit the link below.