We’re thrilled that Newsome Academy are our very first high school to become Democracy Friendly.
Newsome Academy agreed to be one of our pilot schools when we launched our programme back in early 2020. Their Democracy Friendly journey began at a challenging time for everyone, including our schools. Their dedication to becoming a Democracy Friendly School, by trying out new things and overcoming barriers, has been remarkable.
“We’re so proud of our youth councillors, they have achieved far more than they think they have, they are paving the way for others to follow”.Leanne Morgan,
Democracy Friendly Schools Lead and Deputy Headteacher
Young citizens sharing their learning with their peers
The first group of young people at Newsome Academy to become members of Kirklees Youth Council immediately set about recruiting and training more members to their group. They spent time designing their own two-day training programme so that they could share their own learning with their peers.
Collectively they have held a series of ‘Introduction to Local Democracy’ assemblies for each year group, reaching over 1,200 students. In these sessions, they have described why they think it’s important that young people get involved in local democracy.
Youth councillors have designed and distributed a survey for their peers in school. They wanted to learn from others what life is like in their local place. They have used this information to help develop their social action project.
The Newsome Eden Project is a new community space in their school grounds. The youth councillors invited local primary schools and their ward councillors to help launch their project at an event. Together they planted hundreds of tree saplings in their brand-new shared space.
Taking part in Kirklees Youth Council has helped young people at Newsome Academy develop their skills and confidence. They have volunteered for lots of new opportunities – ones the young people say they wouldn’t normally have taken part in. This includes taking part in events such as Notwestminster, Trust the People workshops and the Our Kirklees Futures Learning Summit.
“I heard so many inspiring young activists at Notwestminster and I’d love for them to come and share their experiences”.Alex Barker, Trust the People
“Taking part in Trust the People was stressful but fun. Learning about others was cool. I was surprised that people wanted to learn about our project, and I felt my confidence develop.”Kirklees Youth Councillor
Creating a legacy at Newsome Academy
The Newsome youth councillors have successfully recruited more participants in 2023. During their recruitment and selection planning, one youth councillor shared how she would not have had this valuable opportunity if she had been required to pass a test or be formally interviewed. Using this insight, the group planned an informal process for the third group of new members.
On 30th March 2023, the third group of young people completed their youth councillor training. This takes the total number of young people trained at Newsome Academy up to 32. The is exact same number of seats that our very first youth council (for the whole of Kirklees) started out with back in 2008. This shows how our young participants are helping to grow a stronger youth council, which more young people can participate in.
The Newsome youth councillors have also helped build a relationship with their ward councillors and partners outside of school, for generations of youth councillors to continue in the future.
“Young people who don’t normally talk to one another have become youth councillors and have developed a relationship. We’ve realised that we have things in common, we just have different levels of confidence and different skills.”Kirklees Youth Councillor
“Being a part of Kirklees Youth Council has helped me to talk to people I’d never have talked to before. It’s helped my social skills by allowing me to talk more, it helps people voice their opinions. It helps you share what’s on your mind.”Kirklees Youth Councillor
Sharing the journey
We’ve created this video to share some of Newsome Academy’s Democracy Friendly journey so far.
Hints and tips for other schools…
“If you can, assign a staff member who has time to dedicate to the programme and the young people. But most of all, trust the young people. Let them get on with it.”
Get involved – sign up
We welcome expressions of interest from schools anywhere in Kirklees who would like to join our Democracy Friendly programme, at any time. Have a look at these pages to find out more about our free programme, see what you can expect when you sign up, and learn more about the benefits for children, young people and schools.