Nothing about us without us - Lucy Macnab, Chair of Trustees

Every child has the right to express their views, feelings and wishes in all matters affecting them, and to have their views considered and taken seriously
— United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 12 (respect for the views of the child)

I joined Smart School Councils as Chair of Trustees last summer and this human right is why. In many ways, the idea behind what we are doing is so sensible, so effective at lightening teachers workloads and simplifying the process of running a school council that you can miss what is at its heart. Children and young people have a right to be part of decisions at their school. School is a giant part of their lives and one that they have very little control over. We want to change that.  

And not only because it’s the right thing to do. Children’s views, feelings and ideas are often gold dust. They solve problems that everyone’s been stuck on. They show what works in practice. They get to the heart of the matter. Elm Wood Primary School asked all its pupils how they should raise money for the school. The Smart School Council model involves every child in the school, from reception up, in class meetings to discuss the options. When everyone voted overwhelmingly for a talent show, the school decided to go for it, and it was a big success. A solution to the fundraising question that no one had prioritised before. And one that really worked. 

I visited a SSC school, Richard Alibon Primary in Dagenham and was really struck by what one of the children said:

Our school council is used to be just a few of us. Now it’s everyone. It’s all of us. We all have a voice
— Clichy, Richard Alibon Primary

It made me see some of the added benefits of working in this way. Clichy felt a sense of collective pride and belonging that included every other child in his school. He felt their shared endeavour. At that visit and others it is striking what is gained from involving every child in decision making and supporting their ideas. Who wouldn’t want a world with young citizens who share responsibility, who want to make a change for the better? And who are confident they can put their ideas into practice. 

We want to help more schools, and more children be part of our movement. Will you join us? We need more member schools, more investors like the Young Foundation, more influential friends, anyone who cares about children’s rights and believes in the importance of supporting young citizens. We promise it will be rewarding, affirming work. And that it will be fun. Where else will you find revision rock stars, toytopia and a worm ambulance? Where children lead the way.