Headlines: November 18th, 2005

Schools in Wales are to be the first in Britain where pupils will be given a statutory right to have their say in the decisions that affect them and how the schools they attend are run.The Welsh Assembly Government has approved regulations requiring the governing bodies of all maintained schools, other than nursery and infant schools, to establish school councils. The move is part of the Assembly Government’s wider agenda to give children and young people a voice and to enable them to participate in decisions that affect them.

Welcoming the new legislation the Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning, Jane Davidson said it was a first for Wales. “Only here will school councils be statutory because of this Assembly Government’s commitment to participation. I am delighted that the commitment made in The Learning Country has now been met,” she said.

The Minister said the councils would give students at primary, secondary and special schools a forum to discuss matters relating to their school and their education as well as other matters of concern or interest to them. They would be able, for example, to give pupils questionnaires on specific areas such as bullying, drugs or toilet facilities and to make representations on such matters to the headteacher and the governing body.” The requirement for governing bodies of schools in Wales to establish school councils is a distinctive Welsh policy – there is no equivalent requirement for schools in the rest of the UK. We see participation in Wales as a right and one grounded in the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child,” she added.

“The Assembly is already funding a Participation Consortium, hosted by Save the Children, to promote a co-ordinated approach to participation and to develop new ways of involving young people. There is also a Participation Project within the Assembly to work on increasing the involvement of children and young people in its work. A special Children and Young People’s Assembly – Funky Dragon – is providing a forum for young people to voice their views and participate in decision making on issues throughout Wales.