We’re excited to introduce our two pilot schools for our new Democracy Friendly Schools programme. We received a great response to our first call for expressions of interest, with 19 schools already signed up. It was really difficult to choose schools for our pilot. But we know it’s important that we work very closely with just two pilot high schools for starters, so we can test things out properly and make it work well for a range of schools.
We have chosen two high schools that Kirklees Youth Council haven’t worked with before, one in North Kirklees and one in South Kirklees. They have a great mix of participants and life experiences between them. The schools are looking forward to developing a relationship with their local councillors and supporting more young people to become involved in our local democracy.
Here’s a quick introduction to our pilot schools and what’s happening with the programme…
Newsome High School
Newsome High School is a comprehensive school in the Newsome ward of Huddersfield, with around 600 pupils aged 11 to 16. The school also has specialist provisions for children who have a physical impairment or a hearing impairment.
The school’s values are Respect, Integrity Teamwork and Aspiration. They aim to encourage students to be aware of the world beyond them, to understand how democracy shapes their future and to learn how important their voice is within that.
“By participating in the project and training our young people as youth councillors, we are ensuring they showcase democracy in action and in turn share this message with their peers. We are developing young people who respect the views and opinions of others while being able to express their own. We aim to teach our students there is no room for indifference and apathy as you should never be silent about the things that matter.”
Leanne Morgan – Assistant Headteacher, Achievement
We’ve already received expressions of interest from some other schools in the Newsome area, so we hope this will also be a good opportunity to grow relationships with other schools.
Newsome High School website
Newsome High School twitter
Ethos College is a school providing longer term full time education to Key Stage 4 pupils (ages 14 to 16) with wide ranging social, emotional and mental health needs. The school is in the Dewsbury West ward of Dewsbury. They have a maximum of 42 pupils and are part of the Ethos Academy Trust (along with Reach Academy and Engage Academy).
They are a fully inclusive school with young people from a range of different cultures, beliefs, backgrounds and circumstances, from all over Kirklees.
“I think to be part of the pilot is an amazing opportunity”.
Bailey, vice chair of the Ethos student council
“As a school we strive to empower our students to be proactive members of society. Being able to be part of this amazing opportunity will allow them to have a greater understanding of how their voice can shape their future.”
Marcus Farrington – Assistant Head Teacher
Shelle Kendrick – Inclusion Worker
What’s happened so far
We’ve had our first meeting with both schools. We shared an introduction to our Growing a stronger youth council report, which is where the recommendation for creating Democracy Friendly Schools came from. And we talked about how this fits in with our wider work to grow a stronger local democracy in Kirklees. We’ve shared the journey that the teachers and more importantly the young people are about to embark on, and we’ve talked about the benefits for each school as a whole.
Some of the things our pilots schools have already told us are:
- They’re pleased to be taking part in the pilot and are eager to help us shape the programme.
- They’re really keen to include the wider school in some of the learning activities.
- They’re excited about developing relationships with councillors and shaping projects that help their communities.
- The programme complements some of the practical things they are already doing to help young people to become active citizens.
- Taking part in the programme will give them the confidence to talk to young people about local democracy.
What happens next…
We’re excited to be running our first “Train the trainer” local democracy training with staff from our pilot schools later this month. Both our schools are happy to share their learning journey, so we’ll be keeping you up to date with what happens next via this blog. You can also follow our progress on twitter: #DemocracyFriendly
Our expression of interest forms (for all schools in Kirklees) will remain open, so you can let us know that your school is interested at any time.