As a year, house and deputy head in different mainstream comprehensive schools, I also tried over many years to develop student participative councils with similar gains in self-esteem and the capacity to carry real responsibility to the benefit of the school and the wider community.
It does seem unfortunate that the creation of an effective student council is often left to the enthusiasm of a particular teacher, almost always without any initial or in-service training in this area, rather than being a statutory requirement. As Jack Ashley said to the students, "This is preparing you for citizenship in every way".
In other parts of the world, this issue is taken more seriously. I am about to participate in a conference on student participation in school decision-making in Israel to be held at Hadera School which, as well as being highly student-participative, was the Israeli state school of the year last year.
The Israeli ministry of education actually has a department for education in democracy.
DERRY HANNAM Retired deputy head and OFSTED trained inspector 4 Locksbrook Road Bath