A real sense of ownership

The Council for Education in World Citizenship-Cymru's finding (page 3) that many pupils think schools are run by "hidden hierachies" from which they are excluded - and that they do not even have a right to speak in school debates unless they are bright - is sobering.

Wales is leading the way in the UK by requiring schools to establish elected councils by November. Giving pupils a genuine say in the running of their school can promote a sense of ownership, help reduce disruptive behaviour and bullying, and ultimately improve academic performance.

But disaffected and less-able pupils need help to develop the skills that will enable them to participate fully - for instance the ability to express and defend opinions, listen to others, and make compromises.

Teacher-training, curriculum requirements and whole-school policies will be needed to ensure school councils give a voice to the many, not just to an elite few.

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