Minister wants student councils in all schools
on 25/09/2012 00:00:00
Mr Quinn revealed his plans on a recent visit to Midleton College in Co Cork, where he praised the democratic nature of its elected student council: "It is my intention to ensure that all of the 730 post-primary schools actively have such a council... Lip service is paid to that democratic formation in many of our schools, and in other schools it's a form of guided democracy that is more reminiscent of Romania than it is of this country."
It is understood if all schools have properly elected councils they could be required to affiliate to the Irish Second-level Students' Union (ISSU), which might then be recognised as an official education partner.
A similar initiative was undertaken 20 years ago for parents' groups, meaning the national primary and post-primary parents' councils are now consulted on issues of concern to those with children at school.
The ISSU has 120 member councils which it deems to be sufficiently democratic and student-led. However, there are concerns that the work and policies of student councils at some schools are under the control of the principal or the teacher who liaises between students and management.
ISSU president Dylan Grace welcomed the minister's recognition of the issues. He said many are viewed as tokenistic and do not serve as a forum for student voices: "But there are a notable amount of schools who engage well with their student councils and it benefits the whole school community making students feel that they have a voice in their education."
The Department of Education said inspectors carrying out school evaluations meet with student councils, and recommend one should be set up in all schools.