The Student Union Awakens
In the last term, a collective of Sixth Form students have moved to create a Student Union to complement the existing student voice that targets both the upper and lower school. Thursday the 16th marked the first meeting of the founders, who wanted to set out their agenda and primary goals within their first few months before they formally meet with SLT to present these ideas.
I asked the representatives why they felt they needed to form a Student Union when a student voice already exists. Rob explained that “the student body simply does not feel it can influence decisions” and when questioned about their greatest concerns, Aaroh said that changes to the pastoral system have been the most concerning to him and that “they have taken out the sense of community, and turned the school into a grade factory”
The Union set out a simple agenda that they want achieve first before moving onto further complaints that members of the Sixth Form may have. They highlighted four suggested changes they had thought up, not only emphasising to me what they wanted to see changed, but why.
First on the hit list was the ability for students to listen to music during lessons at the discretion of the teacher. They described this as being most appropriate for subjects in which a student is expected to carry out long periods of individual work, such as in Art or Computing when working on coursework. Listening to music can enhance focus and decrease the potential of distraction by fellow peers, allowing more work to be completed. They highlighted the need for this to be at the discretion of the teacher, as they would be most able to make a decision if it would be appropriate for the task at hand.
Second on the list was a call for the timetable to be changed. Whilst they admitted that designing a timetable can be difficult, they stated that the current one is particularly ineffective for Sixth Form students. Complaints included numerous split doubles and triples especially for subjects such as Chemistry where the practicals often need to span several hours. This means that currently they interrupt other lessons or run over break and lunch times, restricting a teachers ability to do practicals when most relevant to the syllabus.
They also called for further clarification on the ability to drop an A-Level so that they were only studying three. At the start of the course it had bene made clear that in most circumstances people would not be able to drop a subject, but as the year has gone on more and more students have done so. This has left many others confused as to if they would be allowed to drop a subject if they feel that they are struggling. So the Student Union is asking that this be further clarified and better guidelines set out so that the process is clearer and simpler.
The final change they are planning to lobby for is the introduction of off time-table community days within the school designed to increase cohesion between the different years and houses. This is similar to an initiative that was trialled this year with the Year 12s which involved team building activities so that returning students and new students could get to know each other. They argue that this would generally help with the school atmosphere and increase co-operation.
Rob raised one point above the rest, that the students must feel that the Student Union is accountable to them and is a voice that will speak out in their name. They hope that by working with lower and upper sixth students that the school environment can be improved in everyone’s interests. When asked to summarise they key aim, Arroh put it simply: “What we stand for is devolution of power from the SLT to the individual teacher.
The Student Union will be looking within the next few months for ideas and suggestions from members of the school to take forward, and it’s definitely something to keep an eye on. We at the Bournemouthian will be publishing any updates regarding the Student Union and hope to soon bring you further coverage of the Student Voice.
What do you think about the Student Union and their proposed changes?