Newsletter Four Newsletter 17, Winter 2001/2002
 
 
Introduction
This edition of the Network Newsletter reports on the recent joint event with the Anti-Bullying Network in Dumfries which brought people together to look at the role of pupils in promoting positive discipline, in the wake of the recent Discipline Task Group Report. It also includes reports from two Local Authorities on their role in promoting a positive ethos: one on some of the practice in promoting participation of young people in decision making and another on a local authority approach to offering an award for school ethos.

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The newsletter was edited by Christine MacLean and produced by Gina Reddie.

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Better ethos, better discipline, better learning...
Delegates at the recent event hosted jointly with the Anti-Bullying Network and Dumfries and Galloway Council had the opportunity to hear from two members of the Discipline Task Group which recently reported to Jack McConnell. Neal McGowan and Pamela Munn stressed the link between effective teaching and learning and effective discipline, and went on to illustrate the importance of all members of the school community being involved in decision making. Through the range of mechanisms such as school and class councils, circle time and peer support, pupils who have had a hand in drawing up policies and procedures are more likely to accept them and be committed to them.

Critical Skills
The 'Critical Skills' programme is being piloted with P4/5. The programme places an emphasis on practical tools for classroom use and centres on having the brain at optimum level for learning. Pupils are set challenges in small groups, allowing them to set standards for behaviour and work. This environment has been seen to improve discipline as stress is reduced and frustration levels are at a minimum. Pupils have been able to take far more control over their learning and to spend more time on task.
Contact
Joyce Kirkland
P4/5 Teacher
Dalbeattie Primary School
Dumfries & Galloway
01556 610323
 
"We have a voice - do they hear - is there change"
Spittal Primary has a well established pupil council which meets weekly and has been involved in real change in the school. Peer counselling, which is linked to behaviour, is offered through the Pupil Council to pupils who have received detention and also through the Bully Advice Centre. Pupils are consulted termly through a questionnaire from the Pupil Council and the Headteacher and the Council report weekly to the whole school at assembly. Popular suggestion boxes are opened and discussed weekly.
Contact
Carol Howarth
Headteacher
Spittal Primary School
South Lanarkshire
0141 634 5861
     
A sense of belonging
Working to create an environment which allowsBallerup High School pupils and delegates at the Dumfries event pupils to feel secure and valued and to take the initiative when they feel they want to, Ballerup High School offers pupils opportunities to participate in committees such as the Partnership with Parents group, to be consulted about the PSE programme and about the timing of certain subjects. Senior pupils are trained and involved in the lives of younger pupils. The citizenship skills gained by the senior pupils are seen to be a major benefit in addition to the role models and support systems they can offer to younger pupils.
Contact
Margo McDonald
Depute Rector
Ballerup High School
South Lanarkshire
01355 225351
 
Community involvement in peer support
The two main objectives of the multi-agency project are to make sexual health services attractive and accessible for young people, mainly through a regular Youth Clinic, and to develop ongoing involvement in the local secondary school's sex education programme, using peer educators. The project team includes the local GP, the School Nurse, a Guidance Teacher, a Youth Worker and S6 pupils as peer educators who lead the sexual health workshops for younger pupils. Some of the reported benefits include helping to break down barriers between health professionals and young people and the development of responsible attitudes towards sex and health.
Contact
Jim Judge
Headteacher
Douglas Ewart High School
Dumfries & Galloway
01671 403773
     
  Integrating learning and promoting positive behaviour
Pupils are involved in a variety of initiatives at the heart of school life. From being consulted on the Promoting Positive Behaviour initiative, pupils were instrumental in drawing up the Partnership agreement for pupils and parents. In-school research involving 100 pupils directly influenced in-service training and staff manual items on learning and teaching. Pupils have an ongoing direct involvement in monitoring and evaluating procedures. The school places great stress on informing pupils about the aims of new initiatives and what it will do for them and questions the purpose of any new project that does not allow pupils to share responsibility, raise self-esteem or increase motivation.
Contact
Margaret Ross
Depute Rector
Earnock High School
South Lanarkshire
01698 285665
 
Barriers to pupil participation
Workgroup discussion at the Roadshow identified six significant sets of barriers to pupil participation. These are:

Attitudes - staff could be inflexible, have negative attitudes to participation or see the pupil council as pupil power; pupils feel that decisions are out of their control and they won't be listened to anyway or may not have the confidence to put forward their views.
A lack of resources - to make things happen, including a budget for the council.
A lack of time - allocated in the curriculum for the council to meet and for representatives to report back. Not allowing time for the forum to be effective.
No clear or agreed remit for the council - roles and responsibilities are not defined; the boundaries for discussion are too restricted or there is no power to make change. The perception or profile of the council can be affected with a lack of credibility if its role is not integrated into the whole school.
A lack of action - from the management team; no responses to issues raised; and the time taken to implement change.
Poor communication and information - not enough information is given to pupils to make realistic judgements; inappropriate language is used in discussion with pupils; pupils are not trained in their roles. Staff are also often not offered training or induction, nor are they brought on board when a pupil council is set up. There can be a lack of partnership established between sectors of the school community.
 
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