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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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Meg meets Meersbrook Bank Community Primary School Council

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Meg Munn, Labour and Co-operative MP for Sheffield Heeley and member of the Select Committee for Education and Skills, was delighted to visit Meersbrook Bank Community Primary School Council at their invitation after she talked about them in a Parliamentary debate. (see editors notes)

The council is made up of 2 children from each year in the school, one boy and one girl with one reserve - the exception is year 6 (the oldest) where there are 4 children. There is a notice board in the Hall and the minutes of the last meeting are there. Before each meeting each class gets together to decide what the important issues are. The council is supported by one of the teaching support staff. All representatives are elected at the start of the year for one year.

Meg met the council on 12th July where they told her about some of their successes, such as getting Streetforce to regularly clean the gennel next to the school; stopping parents who are dropping off their children from parking on the zigzag lines; getting the money to re-decorate the toilets over the summer break - when Meg asked what was the worst thing about the school they all said the toilets. Chris Thew, the Head Teacher told Meg too that by involving the school council they had devised a much better way of running lunch times.

After the visit Meg said

"The children, who said they were very proud to have been mentioned by me in Parliament, wanted to know about my job, what was the best thing (meeting people in my constituency such as them) - the worst thing (being away from home all week), and what was I most proud of so far as an MP (persuading Education Ministers to put in the Education Bill that all schools must listen to children either through a school council or in other ways)

I think Meersbrook Bank Community Primary School is a really great national example of how to involve children in making decisions, and it shows the children how to try and get things done. Of course, not all their ventures are as successful as the ones mentioned - some of the year 6 children were sad that only now were the toilets to be improved when they were leaving although at least they got to pick the colour scheme - that’s politics I said - often it is about making things better for other people!"

 

Photo: Meg with the children of Meersbrook Bank Community Primary School Council and Head Teacher, Chris Thew, July 12th 2002


Editors notes

 Extract from Meg’s speech where she mentioned the school council.

5th March 2002 - Westminster Hall Debate - Political Participation (Young People)

 

Meg Munn MP:

We have heard examples of school councils, and other mechanisms are available too.

Meersbrook Bank primary school in my constituency has a school council. I recently worked with several schools, inviting them to collect old European coins that were no longer of any value, and give them to the Save the Children Fund. We raised several hundred pounds from that. When I went to the school to pick up the coins, I found out that the issue had been put to the school council. I was relieved to learn that the council had voted that it was a good thing to do; the children had decided that they wanted to take part. Children as young as five, six and seven were making decisions. Four members of the school council gave the coins to me and I asked what they talked about in the school council. They told me that it was problems that were experienced in the school-whether with teachers, with the tuck shop, or with running in the corridor. Young people were involved at an early age in helping to resolve issues, and I thought that that was an excellent example.

We have to make the issues relevant. We should make an effort to meet young people from an early age and should encourage our colleagues in local government to go out and do the same. Young people might not have the vote, but they are still citizens and members of the community in our constituencies. We should encourage schools to involve pupils in appropriate decisions within their schools so that they learn about discussion and compromise, about the art of the possible-as we should perhaps call politics-and about democratic processes.


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