Student participation is becoming an increasingly popular way to give students a voice. It allows them to have a say and some influence over decisions that are made about their lives. They have input into aspects of their school life and community that affect them. The benefits of this are that the students feel empowered, the school has fresh ideas from people who know about current trends and what makes students happy and the students themselves get invaluable experience of decision making, working as a team and presenting their ideas and opinions. However, it is not enough to simply have a student council, the student council must be able to work effectively with positive outcomes. Here is an overview of some of the factors that make a student council effective.
The appropriate support from adults and staff in the school is vital in ensuring that the student council is a success. While it should be the students who run the student council, the involvement of adults will ensure that their opinions and ideas are forwarded to the appropriate people. Also, the experience of the adult can help the student council to run efficiently and effectively.
Access to resources
The student council is about much more than students having ideas and talking about issues. There needs to be some provision for them to implement these ideas. Whether this be starting student focus groups or raising money for a project, it will be necessary for some resources to be made available for them to achieve these things. This may include space, time and physical resources. It is important for it to be outlined to the student council at the beginning exactly what resources they will have and how these may be allocated to different issues and projects.
People actually listening
One of the unfortunate things that can happen with student councils is that they meet and have fantastic ideas but then none of these are implemented because they have nobody in a position to carry them forward and they do not have the power to do this alone. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that their views are listened to and acted upon when appropriate. If their ideas are not realistic then it should be explained to them why not and they should be supported in altering their plans to become more realistic.
Sharing skills and strengths
Every single member of the student council has something to offer. They will each have their own strengths, skills and talents. Perhaps they are excellent at organization, a fantastic public speaker or they are particularly creative. For a student council to be effective it is necessary for these skills to be recognized and utilized properly in different situations.
A varied student voice
It is important that a wide variety of students are included in the student council. For example, their should be both male and female representatives as well as members from different age groups across the school. It can also be beneficial to include students that have a wide range of different interests so that a good cross-section of the school is represented. This will ensure that many different topics and issues are covered by the student council.
The student council is an excellent way for students to participate and have a voice. There are a number of factors that contribute to the success and effectiveness of the student council. These include the inclusion of a diverse group of students, appropriate support and resources, others who will listen to what the students have to say and students recognizing and sharing their strengths and skills.