'Students are very happy and feel totally safe in school, reflected in their high attendance, enjoyment of lessons and outstanding behaviour.'
Ofsted Nov 2011
Student voice has always been an integral part of Redden Court School. The students have always had a say in school policies and the way in which the school is shaped. This has involved them driving change across the school, helping in the recruitment of new staff and ensuring that every student’s point of view is taken into consideration. Over the past year there have been several new introductions. We have seen a new structure put in place for the student voice, a school calendar for student voice meetings, a breakdown of how fundraising is managed and the merger of the Junior Leadership Team and the Food Investigate Improve Inform team.
To help give weight to Student Voice at Redden Court it was necessary to have a structure in place which best resembled the Senior Leadership Team (SLT); therefore the Junior Leadership Team (JLT) was created. This consists of six House Captains and various Committee Leaders. The JLT works closely with the Student Voice Coordinator and hold regular meetings. These meetings aim to look at issues relating to the student body and Redden Court as a whole. In addition to this the JLT arrange fundraisers and charity days which take place across the academic year.
There is a clear structure of how the student voice is heard across the whole cohort rather than just a cross section of students. It was felt that this was important as we did not want only select students having a say on what issues should be put forward to SLT.
A schedule of meetings was put in place to help organise Student Voice. It was decided that Form Reps would be in place. Tutor groups were asked to elect one boy and one girl in each form to represent them. This is done at the beginning of every academic year. Following this theme the Head of Year then selects two individuals from the pool of Form Reps as Year Reps. The JLT is made up of students in Year 10. These students have to apply for the role. Upon applying all applicants are interviewed by the Student Voice Coordinator and the current JLT. The current JLT have a say in who should be part of the new team and what role they should be offered.
Form Reps are scheduled to have half termly discussions with their forms. These generally centre on whole school issues and what changes, if any, they would like to see. They then meet with their Head of Year to further discuss issues raised and look at the best ideas to put forward to the JLT. The Year Reps then meet with the JLT and put forward their ideas. This allows the JLT and Year Reps to go through the funding and logistics of their proposals. This also gives them the opportunity to speak about any progress that may have been made after previous meetings. After deciding on the best ideas, the JLT meet with SLT to put their ideas and proposals forward. All meetings are held regularly and are in the school calendar so that all staff are aware of them.
Some of the other changes which have taken place with Student Voice are: the JLT now meet with the school Governors, the Christmas Mistletoe Charity Day has been revamped and the merging of the Food Investigate Improve Inform Team (FIIIT) with the JLT.
During a Governor’s Open day the JLT had the opportunity of meeting the Governors and finding out what it is they do within the school. During this meeting the JLT expressed that they felt that meeting the Governors more regularly would be beneficial to them. It was decided that this should happen more often and further meetings have been scheduled. In addition to this the school Governors have been invited to attend JLT meetings when they are available.
The JLT have the responsibility of setting up and running the Christmas Charity event every year. The usual set up had 3 sessions which were unstructured which meant tutors had to fill them with activities. During this year’s event the JLT wanted the day to about the various houses and decided to fill each session with an activity. With this in mind it was decided that there should be a house quiz, house competition, charity assembly and charity market. The different elements were all prepared by the JLT and staff were given their plans in advance. Mistletoe day this year proved extremely successful and this was due to the JLT’s insightful and forward thinking.
The JLT have done an immense amount of work this year in regards to fundraising. There has been an introduction of charity boxes in the canteen. There are 3 boxes, each representing a charity. The aim of having these in the canteen is so that students can use any loose change they have to help one of these worthy causes. The 3 charities were chosen by the JLT and they felt that there should be one that is local, national and international. This has been very successful with students not only donating but also questioning the issues with which these charities help.
The JLT also helped introduce more structure to the school’s fundraising policy. After discussions during their meetings it was agreed that any funds raised via JLT events would be split 50/50. One half will go to the JLT nominated charity and the other will be used in the school. The money used in the school will be spent on things which benefit the student body and will be directed by the JLT.
For Mistletoe Day 2015, the JLT decided that the funds raised would help support Lepra. Lepra is a UK charity based in Colchester. They help individuals who have various diseases and are unable to afford the required medication. During the course of the day, £1400 was raised which was then split into 2. Lepra received a £700 donation and £700 was added to the school’s JLT fund. The £700 was used to help install a new water fountain in the atrium area. The request for a water fountain was overwhelming from the student body and was one of JLTs proposals during their meeting with the SLT.
The JLT have also been involved in helping with whole school policies. The teaching and learning committee have met with Deputy Head teacher on a number of occasions to discuss the curriculum and assessment criteria. They were asked about the different systems and the ones they felt worked the students at Redden Court School. Using their vital feedback the new curriculum was put together and the assessment procedure is centred around the student so that it is effective and not just systematic. The JLT have also had meeting with the head of Maths and History to discuss what they felt made a good lesson. Most recently the school’s faculty report was redesigned, the draft was sent to the JLT who during their meeting discussed the report and suggested a few changes. These changes were then implemented and forwarded to head of faculties to use with their teams.
In addition to all of the above, the school holds a number of inter-house events across the academic year. Traditionally these events were dominated by different sports, there were some house events which concentrated on non-sporting activities however it was felt by the JLT that there was not enough. Since last year there has been a change in this, whilst sporting activities are a big part of inter house events there has been an increase in other activities. For example: the school debate competition, Geography’s shoe box appeal, the maths Pi Challenge, MFL’s Vocab Express competition and the mask competition in Drama amongst others. This change was driven by the JLT and there is an expectation for every department to run at least two house events throughout the year.
The Student Voice has a heavy presence when interviewing candidates. There is usually a school tour which is led by a member of the Prefect body. Students also form a panel to ask various candidates, they take detailed notes and these are then passed onto senior staff to help them with their decision in appointing new staff to the school.
Another role which the JLT have is looking at ways in which we can improve travel to and from school. They look at healthier and more sustainable ways to travel. The responsibility of this lies with the Travel Committee and is headed by a member of the JLT. Every year they look at issues the school is facing in regards to transport. This is done via form surveys, talking to students, teachers and parents. Once they established which issues they would like to work on they put campaigns together with the help of the Transport for London. They research, plan, promote and deliver campaigns across the school. For the past two years the Travel Committee has managed to run successful walkathons with the hope of getting more students walking to school where possible. The school is currently in possession of the Gold Accreditation which is the top mark.
Ultimately the purpose of Student Voice at Redden Court is to ensure that the students have individuals amongst their peers who they can bring issues to. To help raise the awareness of Student Voice around the school and the profile of its members Redden Court has put in a number measures to help achieve this. Upon joining the JLT students write a brief profile of themselves which goes onto the TV screens around the school, the JLT are also involved in school assemblies. They introduce themselves during these assemblies, committee leaders also speak about the work they are involved in.
Moving forward with Student Voice at Redden Court we would like for their role to grow further. Some of the ideas that are currently being looked at are: a school newsletter, having a designated spot for the JLT to write an article in the community newsletter and having the JLT being involved in more whole school policy decisions.
Students representing the FIIIT Club