Primary school councils: Organization, composition and head teacher perceptions and values

Date: 01.08.2013
School councils have been an integral part of primary school life for the last decade and, despite not being mandatory in England, they are now to be found in the vast majority of primary schools. This research article aims to examine the current position of school councils in terms of their organization, the issues they address and the views held by senior leaders regarding the setting of agendas, their management and composition. The fieldwork took place in 50 primary schools within one local authority in the North West of England. This involved quantitative analysis based on a questionnaire sent directly to the head teachers. The data confirmed the widespread use of councils, with 100 per cent of responding schools having one in place. Certain themes relating to school council membership emerged, such as a positive emphasis on councillors being role models and possessing strong organizational and communication skills. Little importance, however, was given by head teachers to high academic attainment or creativity. The indications given by school leaders is that there is a clear commitment to having in place effective mechanisms via which children can raise their views, ideas and concerns, whilst promoting equality. However, in practice the emphasis on effective communication skills appears to actually limit the diversity of children actively taking part in primary schools councils. Therefore, school leaders need to take steps to allow a wider intake into their councils, in order to generate a truly representative council. © 2013 British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS).