SCHOOL COUNCIL: Student voice is making a difference

Students have made a real impact on many aspects of life at RGS. JASPER WOOD explains what an important role the school council plays in giving everyone a voice

THROUGHOUT the year we have endeavoured to make the school a better place; with one of our first goals being to set up an eco-committee to tackle how environmentally friendly we are as a school.

School council is integral in pushing for change on behalf of the pupils through appointed individuals from each year group. A student is elected by their peers and holds the position for two years. We meet biweekly to discuss and act on the views of the student body.

Being appointed head boy meant I took on leadership of the school council for this academic year. Having sat on the council for a two-year term before, I had some insight into the workings of the council and was delighted to work with a variety of students, eager for change within the school.

School council has been working to obtain the green flag eco award for the school for a while now. Mr Bruce kindly chaired the eco-committee, made up of eco-conscious students from throughout the school, with support from school council members which fed back at our meetings.

This allowed for students who were passionate about the school environment to share their thoughts and help bring about a step-change in attitude of all students. One major action of note was the outcry for a reduction of plastic waste within school and waste in general. With the charity chosen this year for charity week, Surfers Against Sewage, it was the perfect time for the council to work on the school environment.

We were eager to increase the number of water fountains around the site in order to promote the use of reusable, rather than single use, water bottles. To act on this, we organised a meeting with the premises manager, Mr Hogg. We told him students wanted more water fountains and he agreed and informed us the school were expecting at least two more in the near future and more if we thought they were required; which we did. We also provided him with the student suggestions as to where the best places where for the fountains to be located.

The meeting with Mr Hogg was extremely fruitful. We discussed the possibility of a path around the new 3G pitch, which we all thought was a great idea to improve accessibility throughout the entire site for students.

Mr Hogg also gave us an insight into the improvements of school sanitation facilities which led us to discuss the possibility of a proportion of gender-neutral toilets. This initiative arose from another of our main goals - to improve gender inclusivity within school. Our initial inclusivity goal aim was to try and make change to the school uniform in order to make it more gender neutral. Our work on this throughout the year included brainstorming our ideas of the best approach to uniform, a meeting with Mr Webb to share our ideas and finally prompting a uniform review within school that will hopefully come into effect in September.

The council also met with Mrs Southwell to discuss our experience with PSHCEe during our time at school in order to inform an update to the curriculum. Having the breadth of the student body to do this was unbelievably important and the school council provided this rounded view.

An initiative that was pencilled in for achievement this year was the Leeds Beckett mental health award, which aims to improve the approach to mental health within schools. Though we only managed to complete mental health week within school towards the award for this year, the council is committed to making this a primary goal to complete for next year.

We were also working on an assembly about respect for the school site in an effort to reduce unwanted damage, however as with the metal health award, our progress with this was cut short by the COVID-19 lockdown.

The council worked well as a unit over the year and though we did not necessarily achieve all we set out to do, this can be mainly attributed to the unprecedented circumstances which curtailed our efforts.

I do hope the council will be able to bring this year’s goals to fruition next year, alongside the new goals that will be championed next year.

School council is an integral and influential part of school life and I would encourage anyone interested in having an impact on the running of RGS to step forward for nomination next year. My two terms of office have been a lot of fun and extremely fulfilling. 

*Top, Jasper pictured with fellow students at a Surfers Against Sewage event