Clarendon School (case study)

This is a special school for pupils aged 7 to 16. The school has involved pupils in the school development plan and school policies.

Clarendon is a special school for pupils aged 7 to 16 with moderate learning difficulties and is responsible for an offsite unit for pupils aged 7 to 11 with behaviour, social and emotional difficulties. The school has been consulting pupils for the last 10 years and Clarendon’s last value added score, which placed them at the top of all secondary schools in Richmond, reflects the success of the culture of openness and equality, as the Head Teacher, Ann Coward explains:

“I’m sure it’s not just about what we provide academically. But it’s about the ethos, and the other things we do that are extending our activities that make young people feel listened to, valued, and that somebody is putting a real effort in to meet their needs.”

Due to the age range and varying ability and needs of the pupils, consultation and participation strategies are undertaken in a variety of ways to ensure that all pupils can take part. For example, questionnaires are in a text and non-text format. Below is a summary of the ways in which the school involves pupils.

School Development Plan

Over the years pupils’ views for the school development plan have been gathered in a variety of ways through questionnaires, focus groups, circle-time, or the school council. Past consultations for the school development plan have looked at which lessons were pupils’ favourites, preferred teaching and learning styles, and the school grounds. This year the focus is on emotional intelligence, as Ann Coward explains “we want children to have emotional literacy... It will be something that adults and children will be working on together.”

School Policies

Pupils have been involved in determining the content of the school’s teaching and learning policy and behaviour policy. For the teaching and learning policy pupils were asked how and where they felt they learned best and most. The results highlighted that visits out of school and activity / focus weeks were really stimulating.

Consultations on the school’s behaviour policy have resulted in the pupils deciding the incentives for positive behaviour. They designed a merit system where pupils can exchange their merits for items in the merit shop (footballs, jewellery, accessories etc.) Classes that receive no unauthorised absences at the end of a term now have the reward of a school trip.

School Council

The school council has been an active driver of change in the school. Each class elects one student councillor. As the age range of school council member spans from 7 to 16, the meetings and decision-making process needs to be managed carefully so that everyone feels able to take part. A senior teacher is responsible for chairing the meetings and supports pupils in pulling together an agenda and minutes of meetings based on what the pupils raise. Pupils discuss age-related issues at classroom level through circle-time, and they bring whole school issues to school council meetings. Student Councillors feedback to their classes on decisions and outcomes of their meetings. Teachers help with the feedback if support is needed, so for example support is needed for pupils whose language is assisted by signing.

The school council has direct contact with the Governors and Head Teacher. Governors have consulted the school council about journeys to school, extended school, and out of school activities. The school council have been involved in the recruiting for the new Head Teacher; looking at involving more girls in sports; the need for relaxation techniques for pupils; reviewing the effectiveness of the “Stop and Think” playground behaviour management strategy; and improving the recycling system in school.

The school operates an open process for all students to get involved in the school aside from the school council. There is currently a group of pupils who are passionate about cricket and are looking into buying better equipment. The pupils will be responsible for making an application to a charitable trust.

Individual Level

All pupils are asked individually about their preferred learning styles and teachers use this information when planning lessons. Pupils are also involved in setting their own targets, which are reviewed on an on-going basis. All of the pupils in the school have statements of special educational needs, which means that they all have to have annual reviews. Pupils will do a self-review prior to the meeting and come with their own report of their progress. In this they would ask themselves what they think they have done well? What they could do better? If they have any targets, and what their view of the school is. Younger pupils have someone to scribe for them when writing their report.

Involvement in Local Authority consultations

Pupils have taken part in consultations conducted by the local authority around children and young peoples’ experiences of services offered by social services. They have also been involved in a survey carried out by Transport for London about public transport for people with disabilities.

Overall the school offers a variety of ways for pupils to input into their education and school. Through its inclusive activities the school ensures that all pupils can have their voice heard. Pupils are encouraged to come and talk directly to teaching staff and senior management in the school about their views, achievements, and issues, as well as through formal systems in the school council and consultations.

“I do think that we have an ethos of students being able to have their say and be taken seriously, to be treated respectfully and for their views not to be ridiculed by other students or by adults.” Ann Coward, Head Teacher

This case study has been archived from Participation for Schools website on 26.06.06. You can find out more in the education topic area.

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