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Welsh give more power to the youth

PUPILS in Wales will have to be consulted about changes to school policy` but are unlikely to demand a two-day week or the resignation of the head.

Heads, governors and councils will be expected to consult school councils from September 2004, under a new Welsh Assembly ruling.

But Shan Davies, head of Builth Wells high school, in Powys, does not believe pupils will make outlandish demands.

"We see things through adult eyes and they see things through children's eyes, so they come up with very inventive ideas, " said Mrs Davies, who has been consulting with pupil representatives for more than a year. Her pupils have, for example, initiated a campaign to raise money for a new canteen.

And they have introduced regulations to prevent crushing in corridors.

"We've shared school development plans with them, so the next stage is to involve them in the planning, and in whole-school issues, such as target-setting. They must be listened to," said Mrs Davies.

Twelve-year-old Bethan Greaves agrees. She is the school council representative for her class at Builth Wells, and would like to play a more active role in running the school. "It would make you feel powerful and important, which is nice. It would have to be suggestions, rather than 'you're going to do this and that'. Members of staff have to have more power than pupils."

But Neil Davies, chair of the National Governors' Council, believes pupils'

involvement must be strictly limited. "Do you involve children with staff issues, or pay and conditions? I don't think so," he said. "School councils can have a valued input. They could advise on discipline in the classroom, or how they feel about supply teachers. But, at the end of the day, pupils aren't governors."

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