How School is Run

  • Children and young people in Wales have a voice in decisions that affect them
  • There are lots of opportunities for you to be involved in decision making about how your school is run
  • Most schools in Wales have to have a School Council to represent the views of the pupils in decision making at school

You spend a lot of time at school, so it’s right that your opinions about what happens there. Your parents or the people responsible for you may have chosen the school you go to – but you can have a say in how your school is run. The Welsh Government has recognised the importance of children and young people having a real voice in decision making at school, which is why every school must have a School Council.

Every ‘maintained school’ in Wales (apart from nursery schools and infant schools) should have a School Council. The head teacher and the school governors must listen to anything the School Council raises with them, and take the School Council’s views into account in decision making. The head and the governors must let the School Council know what it will do about anything that has been raised by the School Council, or about the decision that has been made.

The School Council should have at least one pupil from each year group in the school, from year 3 and above. The best way to choose the people who make up the School Council is by secret elections in school, so that the pupils choose which pupils will represent them. You should be able to vote for the candidates in your year group. If some of the pupils at your school have additional learning needs, they should be represented on the School Council too.

In most schools, the number of pupils would make it impractical for every pupil to sit on the School Council, but it could happen. At least one pupil from each year group in the school, from year 3 upwards, should be included on the School Council. If only some pupils sit on the School Council, every pupil should be able to have a secret vote for the School Council representatives for their year group.

In secondary schools (for children aged 11-18), the School Council should be allowed to nominate 2 pupils from years 11-13 to be Associate Pupil Governors. This means that they will sit on the school’s governing body and be involved in decision making at that level. The head teacher and the governing body have to accept the pupils nominated by the School Council unless there is a specific reason why those pupils shouldn’t be a Pupil Governor.

There are some decisions and discussions that the Pupil Governors can’t be involved in. This includes discussions about members of staff and also about individual pupils.

The School Council is there for you to make your voice heard. If you aren’t elected to the School Council, you should be able to tell a member of the School Council what your issue or question is and they should be able to discuss it at the School Council meeting, and talk to the head teacher about it on your behalf. You should find out what happens.

Schools in Wales have other opportunities for pupils to get involved and participate in what goes on in school. Eco Schools and the Young Ambassadors programmes are just two of the ways you can be involved and influence how your school is run. You may also be able to get involved running clubs for other pupils. By participating and taking an active part in school life, you are more likely to be able to make your voice heard.

The rules about School Councils work differently for community special schools and foundation special schools. There should still be a School Council though.

Only ‘maintained schools’ in Wales have to have a School Council. These are the schools that are run by the Local Authorities – sometimes called ‘state’ schools or comprehensives. If you go to an independent school (where your parents or someone else must pay fees for you to go) there doesn’t have to be a School Council – but you may find that there is a School Council or some other way of participating in school life.