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What is a school council?

What is a school council?
A school council is group of students who are elected to represent the views of all pupils and to improve their school.

"School council" means all kinds of school-based groups run by students, including student forums and youth parliaments.


What does it do?
A school council does a number of things:

  • The school council meets - usually with a teacher present - to discuss and sort out problems. These may include school lunches, behaviour or ideas for fundraising events.


  • Members of the school council will be responsible for carrying out the ideas that have been agreed, such as planning discos, writing newspaper articles, or meeting with catering staff.


What jobs are there?
Each year, every class will normally elect 2 representatives to be members of the school council.

The council will then meet to elect officers such as:

  • Chair
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer

In a larger school (more than 400 pupils) there may be separate year councils, with a large meeting of the whole school council once a term.


What makes a good one?
A good school council is one that represents the views of all students and gets things done.

Many schools have councils, but they are not all successful. These are some things that make a council effective:

  • Regular meetings


  • A council that is not too big


  • Class/Form councils that meet regularly


  • Good communication between representatives and their class


  • Training for school council members


  • Smaller groups (subcommittees) working on specific events or issues


  • A bank account or budget (however small)


  • Annual evaluations


Do they get anything done?
Many school councils just talk.

Good school councils do get things done and examples include councils who:

  • Successfully campaigned to the local council and got their toilets sorted out


  • Re-designed the school cafeteria and lunch menu


  • Reduced bullying by introducing a telephone helpline for victims


  • Designed a new homework diary and sold over a thousand copies


  • Changed the school uniform from blazer and tie to comfortable sweatshirts


What is their history?
School Councils have been around for around 40 years, but now with citizenship being taught, there are many more around.

The government says that school councils are important but they aren't forcing schools to have one.

In some countries there are laws which state all secondary schools must have councils. These include:


  • Ireland
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Sweden