Sullivan Upper School is a community of pupils and staff working together to maintain high academic standards in a caring and supportive environment. One of the ways in which this learning community is strengthened is through the combined efforts of pupil representatives and members of staff working together to address relevant issues.
The aim is to encourage pupils to realise that this is their school and as such their opinions are valued. It also enables staff to gain a pupil perspective on school life and vice versa and so enhance the whole experience for everyone concerned.
The role of the pupil representatives is to bring forward pupil opinions on a variety of issues and discuss them with staff. Also the pupils act as a link with their peers during consultation exercises and provide a useful channel to inform others of forthcoming developments.
Each Form Class elects two pupil representatives. Each year group then elects two pupils from this group who represent the year group on the School Council which meets at twice per term.
The benefits of such activities are far reaching. Involving young people in decision making is not only about recognising their rights, but also about developing skills of co-operation which are necessary if we are to achieve a more cohesive and democratic society. If children are expected to have views and as responsible citizens to elect representatives to express those views within a democratic framework, then the school council is a part of introducing pupils to that process.
Initially, meetings between pupil representatives and members of staff were held regularly twice a term. The agenda was put together by the Vice-Principal and pupils were free to raise their own issues. Minutes of the meetings were given to the Vice-Principal and were used along with staff opinion to make informed decisions about future developments and if necessary, to change present arrangements.
Having introduced the concept of involving the pupils in the decision making process within the school, pupils in different year groups are now brought together into a School Council and all pupils are invited to be a part of that process.