The Thomas Tallis school council residential focused on the development of positive interpersonal relationships and the cohesion of this group as part of our whole-school community. Our student council members are a vertical group with individuals from Year 7 through to Year 10. The main aim of the residential was to establish a cohesive student council, using a co-construction approach called the Mango Model.
Ensuring student ‘ownership’ of the residential – using the Mango Model
Staff from Thomas Tallis are trained in the Mango Model, a democratic community decision-making structure, which is used across all of our Learning Away residentials. Back in school, this model forms a core part of the school’s approach to students’ learning conversations – and is also now the model through which the school council operates. Read more about their use of the Mango Model and other co-construction approaches here.
Using the Mango Model ensured that we engaged all of the students involved and gave them full ownership of the residential. Planning the residential was the responsibility of all of the students, who were given an equal role in developing the aims and objectives of the trip. The planning meetings also helped to structure the conversation around what would happen during the residential, whilst also enabling the students to create a thoughtful approach to the school’s anti-bullying campaign (a main focus of the work of the school council at the time). Throughout the residential we continued to use the Mango Model to regularly reflect on progress and to evaluate our work. The combination of these factors meant that we would also develop both a strong sense of belonging and an appreciation for student voice in our school community.
During the residential – impacts on cohesion and relationships
During the residential it was clear that each student felt valued, as they saw that their voice was important in the democratic home, group and council meetings. Some of our youngest Year 7 members chaired meetings during the residential and took on other important roles. It was great to see the group evolve and demonstrate a real sense of ownership.
It was also fantastic to see all of the students guiding, supporting and coaching each other in the residential’s various outdoor challenges, regardless of age and abilities. The whole experience involved many group tasks ranging from bushcraft skills to low-rope courses, which developed important team-working skills and helped the students to have empathy with each other and understand each other on a deeper level. Students had to get to know each other to then support each other in all of these activities, which developed their confidence in communication and social skills throughout each day.
The development of these skills was important as it clearly helped to establish a supportive environment on the residential, which would then help to create a strong base for future school council initiatives back in school.
Post residential – what the student council achieved
As part of the anti-bullying campaign the student council set up a student drop-in at lunch times back at school for students who wanted to talk about bullying or needed practical support. The school council then went on to confidently share their work with the whole-school community through assemblies, campaigns and meetings with different school staff.
Our whole-school approach to student voice evolved to give students more ownership and input into the school, raising the profile of school council.