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Primary seniors help to improve relationships

David Henderson listens to one headteacher's experience of changing the attitudes of her pupils (below) while the school ethos conference, organised by the Anti-Bullying Network in Dunblane, hears about the importance of listening

Class meetings organised and chaired by P7 pupils are helping to promote better relationships at Kilninver primary in Oban.

Don McAllister, headteacher, says each class is consulted on issues raised through suggestion folders, at assemblies and by the group of senior pupils dubbed "head pupils".

A senior pupil forum meets the head to pool ideas and decide on any action.

"The feeling of responsibility and ownership that senior pupils have, in almost all cases, has had a positive effect on their learning and behaviour in the classroom. The various training experiences that the senior pupils received have had a direct effect on peer support, resulting in a very low incidence of bullying over the years at the school," Mr McAllister explains.

The school now wants to develop class meetings from P4 to P6 with pupils in the chair and less teacher supervision.

* Student councils help more vulnerable pupils, improve the school environment and boost facilities, according to School Councils UK, the web-based organisation.

"Generally, there is a lack of understanding of the potential of active student councils in schools. Teachers and students are often limited by their own experience," it says.

Heads have to "genuinely believe" that student ideas and input make the school a better place.

* A tool kit for staff to promote pupil involvement in special schools is being prepared by the Edinburgh Youth Social Inclusion Partnership. It will offer advice on involving young people with social, emotional and behavioural difficulties. "If a session goes wrong, it's not necessarily your fault," it says.

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