Leweston is known for its strong sense of community and both students and parents often speak of the school being one big family.
For many years, children in families were the silent partners; the proverb that ‘children should be seen but not heard’ has been in common parlance since the fifteenth century, the phrase being most often used to reprimand a child who tried to interfere in a conversation between adults.
Leweston is, however, a modern family, one where the children’s voices are valued and encouraged. We believe the pupils represent a significant resource of ideas, improvements and commentary. Who better than the pupils, who are experiencing the results of our decision making, to feedback on realities of daily life and learning?
On a personal level, pupils benefit hugely from active participation in their own community. Knowing that their views are important and that they can influence and inform adult decisions gives them confidence and a sense of empowerment. It models democracy in action and develops skills such as communication, cooperation and, at times, compromise. It also encourages them to take responsibility for driving through the changes they want to see, behaviour which young people around the world are starting to model effectively to those older than themselves.
Within their classes and tutor groups all pupils have the opportunity to raise and discuss issues and share ideas. Once a term, wider issues are brought to the School Council for deeper consideration and review. The School Council is, in non-Covid times, chaired by one of the Head Prefect Team and attended by members of the Senior Leadership Team. The model of the School Council promotes effective communication between students of all ages and staff. Prior to meetings, class reps, who are elected by their peers, collect views and points from their class, and bring them to the table for discussion at the Council meeting. Subsequently, some issues will be taken forward and discussed in other relevant meetings and change can take place. Feedback is then given to the reps to take back their tutor groups.
This activity is mirrored in the Prep School where even the youngest members of school have the opportunity to take their comments to a Council chaired by Year 6 pupils and attended by the Head of Prep.
This term School Council has had to be a little different. Students have met with their ‘bubbles’ to discuss the issues they want to raise, with these being submitted to the Senior Leadership Team for response and comment. The process is a little more long-winded due to the various different steps that have had to take place but within the coming week reps will be in a position to feedback comments from the Senior Leadership Team to their classes. Whilst sadly we cannot meet in our usual democratic forum, open conversation will continue and student contribution will continue to be central to change. In stark contrast to the outmoded idiom, restrictions brought about by Covid-19 mean that while the children may not be seen, they will most certainly be heard.
Miss Juliana Atyeo, Assistant Head Pastoral