Student Voice: No Change?
Sometime in the fall of last year I wrote a short piece regarding the state of the school’s student voice program, I shan’t bore you with the details but I can assure you it was most unfavourable. I felt at the time that more needed to be done and so far it seems like it may not be getting any better.
At the start of this year I was selected to act as Form Representative, I am perhaps ashamed of the undemocratic nature of my selection, and attended the first – for lack of a better word – meeting and it was within minutes that I noticed more red flags than Soviet Russia. As it is often said: ” a good impression is important”, yet at the very first meeting, setting the standard for the year, they had somehow managed to double-book the Lecture Theatre with the DofE participants, resulting in a multitude of students. I am however happy to say that those in charge of running the meeting quickly and thoughtfully relocated us to the Library. Regardless, the damage was done and many representatives who arrived just a few minutes afterwards were unable to find us in order to attend the meeting.
All of this can easily be pushed to the back of my mind, everybody makes mistakes and sometime things go wrong. Surely I can’t allow a single misplaced meeting to poison my thoughts for this year? Perhaps it is what happened next that annoyed me the most. We are far from a council and that is perhaps why I have avoided using the term throughout this piece, we are little more than a glorified consultation group. I had some premonition of this when we were told that the meeting would ‘focus on anti-bullying’. Whilst I entirely agree that the bullying policy does need careful consideration, I would much rather that were we given a sense of independence, a choice of what we discuss. The meeting focused entirely on the ideas of anti-bullying, whilst many of us had complaints that covered a colossal spectrum of concerns. What annoyed me more is that I also don’t seem to recall a single member of SLT even being present to be able to explain current decisions, please correct me should I be wrong.
Of course I may just be a radical, an outlier and an overly passionate student but I feel that Student Voice needs to be more than simply a body of consultation, it needs to be there to hold the school accountable to its decisions, provide a healthy opposition to the ideas in consideration by SLT and to act as an independent unit that comes up with its own ideas for implementation. Many of the recent changes to the school have left hundreds of students feeling at best annoyed and at worst disenfranchised, the Student Voice is a chance to allow students to reconnect with their schools. Schools are here for a single reason: to provide a working education system for the future of the world. Of course the school should be entitled to ask hard work and dedication from the students, but the students in return must feel that they are valued, that their ideas matter. Year after year, student councils around the country fail to provide the interface between staff and student that is desperately needed to create a healthy, thriving learning environment. Reform is needed.
Perhaps it is too soon to tell, I may be judging a book by its prologue, however if change does not come then it won’t be long before yet again apathy grows within students towards their education. I can only hope that the next meeting proves me wrong, that our ideas and feelings were valued. Only time will reveal what comes next, I just hope that what I write next isn’t a eulogy.