At Steyning C of E Primary School, we believe that it is vitally important to listen to children and to give them a voice in how things are done.
Children are given roles and responsibilities across the school from a range of class-based monitor roles, to school based roles e.g Junior Librarians, Sports Crew and Playground Buddies. Then as a school we run a whole approach to ‘Pupil Voice’ called 5 Star Circles.
All pupils from Year One to Year Six are involved in our 5 Star ‘Democratic’ Circles. Each group consists of children from each of these year groups. These began in Autumn 2017 and replaced our School Council. We wanted all children to have a chance to be involved in making decisions about the school which directly affect them. Through Circles we want to teach children about how to become active and involved citizens, who have a respect for other people and their opinions. Our 5 Star Circle Leaders are year six children. They have an important job, because they are the people who help lead the conversation during Circles. Circle leaders listen to people and facilitate conversations. The secretaries are from our Year 5 children, they write down what is said to record the different opinions in a group. Each Circle group also has adult members to help support the Circle leaders.
Circles are also about getting to know different children in school, so each Circle is made up of children from each class. Part of the circle leader role is to make sure everyone learns the names of all the people in their circle, and something about them. The staff and governors want to know what all our children think about what happens in school and want the children to share in decision-making in school. Every half term one question or topic is discussed and changes to the school suggested.
Circles help develop skills that the school think are fundamental to living in Britain today. Through our 5 Star circles we can demonstrate our values by being:
Loving: Kind and caring, able to share and forgive
Happy: Have self-belief and feel valued, safe and secure at school
Respectful: Are polite, understanding of others and considerate of their feelings
Curious: Are inquisitive, creative and eager to learn
Brave: Are determined, perseverant and resilient, always striving to do their best
Collaborative: Are encouraging, work well with others and are community minded
Democratic Circles encourage….
· Respect for other people
· Respect for democracy
· Mutual understanding across the age ranges in the school
· Tolerance and awareness of the needs and wants of other children.
· Pupils to accept responsibility for their own behaviour,
· Pupils to show initiative
· Pupils to understand how they can contribute positively to the lives of others
· Pupils to be solution focused Once the leaders have written down everyone’s opinions they share these with the Senior Leadership Team. Any actions taken are reported to governors in the termly Headteachers Report. Where children have suggested changes the group will discuss what is possible and what is not possible. Where children have said what they know or feel about something the circle leaders, staff and governors will discuss if anything needs to be done to improve this aspect of the school.
We encourage children to find things out for themselves and to report back to each other on what is going on, what is changing and what could be done to make the school even better. So that we can become a ‘5 Star’ school and continue to reach for our vision: “Do Everything in Love; we do our best in all we do and all we say, with God’s help.”