is the first Case Study of three in the second stage of our
2000-01 series that features pupil participation. This stage
focuses on pupils' participation and involvement in the management
and support systems of their schools. It features Kilninver
Primary School, a small, rural school - in size having much
in common with many schools beyond the central belt of Scotland.
Kilninver is very conscious that, whether their pupils eventually
stay within a rural environment or head towards town and city
life, becoming active participants in their own school now will
prepare them for later choices and roles in the larger context
of Oban High School and then adult life.
Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.
Oban, PA34 4UT
Contact: Don McAllister, Headteacher, 01852 316236
Kilninver Primary School serves a wide rural area to
the south of Oban, Argyll. It currently has a role of 43, including eight children in the
pre-five unit. The main school pupils are split into three composite classes. There are
two full-time teachers including the Headteacher, one part-time class teacher, a full-time
clerical auxiliary/classroom assistant and visiting specialists in art, music and Gaelic.
The school is fortunate that our local policeman, chaplain and community nurse make
significant educational in-puts and we also have a volunteer Gaelic choir tutor. The chair
of the school board is actively involved in the school and our parents are very
supportive. All pupils are transported to school, the majority coming from the village of
Kilmelford seven miles away while others live in smaller settlements within the catchment
area, The school itself is situated in a somewhat remote spot detached from any clearly
The foundations for the present system of
pupils having their say in the management of the school was laid by the previous
Headteacher. She set up a 'Pupil School Board' which met monthly, chaired by the
Headteacher and minuted by the school secretary. The present Headteacher, realising that
giving responsibilities to senior pupils actually leads to improvements in attitudes and
performance, has gradually developed the system, giving the pupils a greater role in the
decision-making process within the school.
|Picture A: Kilninver Primary School Senior Pupil Forum, June
is pupil participation promoted?
of the Senior Pupil Forum is open to all primary six and seven pupils. Through membership
of the forum, pupils are actively involved in making decisions and taking responsibility.
Meetings are held approximately once a month. Meetings are now chaired by a pupil (the
pupil forum leader's position is held on a rotation basis by the primary sevens), who sets
the agenda in consultation with the Headteacher.
Another pupil acts as secretary and takes
minutes. The Headteacher now attends meetings in an advisory capacity.
Examples of action taken as a result of
projects initiated by the pupils themselves are:
- erecting a ball fence,
- painting coloured markings in the playground,
- placing mirrors in the toilets,
- building a bench and picnic table for the
- developing a garden in the school grounds,
- designing and making paper cup dispensers for
- reintroducing crisps as part of the playtime
- setting up story telling sessions for younger
I like being
in the Senior Pupil Forum because I get a chance to say what I think of the school and
what should be done.
I mentioned, along with others, the state
of the boys' cloakroom and now work is getting done. Suggestions come from everyone - we
are all happy.
Seeking the views of all
One quiet but burning issue was the
increasing influence of senior pupils in making decisions that affected all pupils
attending the school. Two mechanisms were put in place to ensure that the views of all are
represented and that younger pupils, too, participate in the school's democracy. Firstly,
pupils are encouraged to write their views and post these into a suggestion folder. The
views are then discussed at the meetings which follow. Secondly, prior to each senior
pupil meeting, the pupil forum leader now holds a class meeting with each of the other
class groups in the school before reporting back to the Forum. The Senior Pupil Forum must
now take into consideration the views of younger pupils.
Through their class meetings, younger pupils
have recently influenced the following:
- the amount of football played and the
- type of ball used in the playground,
- the type of markings painted on the
- the kind of garden area to be created,
- the choice of play equipment for the
- the activities they wanted included in their
I like class
meetings. We chose what games we wanted for our Christmas party.
If you don't
want to say it in front of the others you can put it in the suggestion box.
|Picture B: The Senior Pupils Forum allows for healthy debate
and "classic listening and talking" (HMI, December 1999).
|Picture C: One pupil forum leader identified a need for
tables and benches for the playground. Senior pupils then visited a Clydebank College to
make the furniture themselves.
|Taking a lead
Primary seven pupils take turns acting as the pupil
forum leader. Those who wish to hold the position agree to take on some extra
responsibilities. These are, to:
- chair the Forum and class meetings;
- meet with the Headteacher prior to each Forum
and class meeting;
- ensure that decisions made at Forum meetings
are followed up,
- report at assemblies to the whole school
community on the work of the Forum,
- take the lead in promoting recently formed
pupil-centred policies and in maintaining a positive ethos within the school,
- provide peer support for those in need of some
- welcome new pupils to the school and help them
Past pupil forum leaders have had a hugely
positive influence on the ethos of the school and on attitudes to work. It has been one of
the most important outcomes of allowing pupils to gain positive 'ownership' of their
being pupil forum leader because I found I had more responsibilities and I felt more grown
up. The best thing about being pupil forum leader was running the class meetings and
everybody looking up to me. If we didn't have our say, I wouldn't enjoy coming to school
so much - we need to know how to make decisions and take responsibility.
A weekly whole school circle time is held.
Included in the session is an opportunity for any pupil who has a problem that they would
like help with, for example, in the playground, to air their concern to the rest, but
without naming anyone. The other pupils are then invited to suggest helpful strategies.
I think that we should do more whole
school circle times - but P6/7s should run them.
pupils were invited to contribute to the monthly school newsletter, with articles about
their work on the Forum. Thus issues important to them are now being communicated to the
wider school community.
involvement in the curriculum and its evaluation and in planning and reporting systems
Teaching and learning are the key tasks for
our school as for all others. A recent move has been to allow pupils to evaluate selected
school activities. They say what they liked and did not like about the activity and
suggest improvements and innovations.
I quite enjoyed the first aid course. I
learned a lot from the Red Cross. It was fun and I think my friends will agree it was
quite a bit better than normal school work. It did get a little boring towards the end
when we were going over the things we'd already done.
Written evaluation of a school activity by
a P6 pupil
In an attempt to engage pupils more with
their learning and its progress, procedures are being piloted whereby information in
assessment profiles is shared with pupils. In some cases pupils are being asked what style
of assessment they think allows them to demonstrate best what they can do. Reports are now
discussed before being sent home, and primary seven pupils attend parents' evenings. As a
result of consultation on assessment, several pupils have actually asked to discuss next
steps in their learning with their teachers.
A working party of senior pupils has just
completed a consultative review on playground arrangements and produced its own written
policy. The pupils' own booklet, Rights and Rules for Happy Schools was produced following
a whole-school development which included senior pupils conducting Circletime sessions
with younger pupils. The information in this book formed the basis for the school policy
on Good Behaviour and Positive Relationships. Pupils were also consulted prior to
production of policies on bully-proofing and on school dress code.
They see it from a child's point of view
which we as adults don't always see.
Class teacher A
|The pupil forum leader comes to ask us for our
|Picture D: The pupil forum leader has a very active role,
and is seen holding a class meeting.
|Picture E: Senior pupils receive training in circle time
techniques in order to help younger children make decisions and influence policy.
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