1 May 2007 News

NICCY calls for school councils across Northern Ireland

ONE week before the return of devolved powers to the Assembly, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, is calling for greater democracy in Northern Ireland schools.

At a major conference on creating and improving school councils guidance was launched which will help every school in Northern Ireland encourage pupils to have a say in the day-to-day life of school.

Democra-School is an ongoing programme that started in 2006 to help demonstrate the benefits to schools of having an effective school council and to create the guidance launched today.

“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child says that children should have a say in decisions that affect their lives,” said Ms Lewsley. “Today at Democra-School we launch guidance that will help schools encourage this.

“Key to creating the guidance was that it was led and steered by young people from local schools right across Northern Ireland.“They shared examples where school councils have improved the life of schools, and how they helped solve problems. We now want to bring this good practice to every school in Northern Ireland.”

Twenty schools will receive the guidance at today’s conference in Lisburn’s Island Mill Civic Centre. Over the next three weeks every school in Northern Ireland will receive a copy of the guidance.

“The Democra-School guidance is an important stepping stone to make sure that pupils can have an effective and proportionate say in schools,” said the Commissioner.

“I hope that after today’s event the new Assembly and Minister for Education will look to introduce legislation and policy that will require the creation of school councils as a demonstration of the Assembly’s commitment to children and the special contribution they bring.”

Notes for Editors

  • The Democra-School guidance was launched today at a conference at Lisburn’s Island Mill Civic Centre which began at 10.00am
  • Pupils, teachers and guests will also have the opportunity to develop, through workshops, how schools can adopt the guidance into practice.
  • Last year schools attending a Democra-School conference worked to establish the principles which were developed as the guidance which was launched today
  • You can view the Commissioner’s speech here
  • You can find out more and also view and download a copy of the Democra School Guidance here

For more information please contact:
Jonathan Traynor, Media & Public Affairs Officer
Tel: 02890 316397
Fax: 02890 314545
Mob/out of hours: 07917 543 953