Tuesday, 14 April 2015

School Council Report Easter Term

School Council Meeting – 17th March 2015

Hello and welcome to the last school council blog post for this school year – from me at least! I hope you’ve all had a nice Easter, and just before this nice break, the school council was hard at work, in what was one of the most diverse and interesting meetings I have had the pleasure of attending. So, without further ado, let’s have a closer look at what got on in this meeting.

First up on the agenda, was the school uniform, following some inquiring minds asking what happened to the initial calls for blazers to be the new school uniform for Cowbridge. We had a little poll from the members, and what the forms thought, and the KS3 rigidly opposed to the idea of blazers, although years 10 and 12 were interested (I would like to chime in with the fact that I like the idea of a blazer too, but that’s just my view I guess!). If we were to theoretically go for the idea of blazers in the future, then the consensus shows that we should follow the likes of Cardiff High, and allow the traditional Cowbridge jumpers to be worn. However, this theoretical world will most probably not come upon Cowbridge, at least for now, as there simply isn’t enough interest in blazers for the idea to be enforced.

Afterwards, the council talked about the 6th form participation in the school council. With the 6th form now only registering once a week, Year Council messages and meetings were difficult to co-ordinate. To accommodate this, there will now be a suggestion box in Scholars, to increase awareness on the issues in school, however small they may seem. To top this all off, there will be a wall display in E block to showcase the school council meetings and minutes, so that even the 6th form will be safe in the knowledge that their needs are heard, just like the rest of the school.

Following on from this, we had a brief discussion about after school gym facilities, and what that means for the students. We had our year 11 year rep; Martha Holder, raise a question about the gym moving in school. The issue lies on the fact that the new gym time is at an inconvenient time for the school (6.30pm), and thus the year 11 students were worried that there was going to be a charge, as this isn’t regarded as an after school activity (after school activites must take place directly after school, and seemingly must not go past a certain time). This seemed illogical to many of the girls taking this session, as they could easily go to Cowbridge gym instead. The head boy and girl talked to the Head Mistress about this, and there is now a chance of the 5x60 officer carrying out the class (in the place of the voluntary work done by Ollie Trotman), or Ollie being employed directly to take the class. This could mean that the timings will be changed, and all will turn to peace and tranquility once more (at least in the sense of the gym!)

After this, some year 12 members raised the controversial topic of parking for the students who are able to drive to school. There have been many complaints, by the residents of nearby areas, where people were parking, leading to the restriction where people may park. This issue is currently being chased up by the Vale Youth Forum (whose main focus for this year is addressing transport issues in the Vale.), by sending a letter to the council, to see if alternatives can be found on this matter. Furthermore, more recently, it has been announced that Cowbridge Comprehensive School will ask the council, whether the old school grounds should be turned into a parking area, to release some of the tension in the lack of spaces for pupils and everyone else who wants to park in Cowbridge.

Immediately following this, we talked about the new GCSEs (psychology, sociology, and business will be available for 2016 year 10) and whether taster classes could be run to accommodate to the fact that this is a completely new subject, and many (if not all) will have no idea what these subjects entail, and whether these new courses will suit these students. This has been voiced, and there are plans now in place for these classes to run before Christmas next year so these pupils ultimately have a better idea on what they want to take for their GCSE option choices.

Finally, the council briefly talked about the vending machines and the fob machines. There have been some issues encountered with the lack of stock in these machines, due to the immense popularity of these snacks available. Furthermore, it was stressed that not all fob machines were working at all times. At this time of writing, this issue has been swiftly resolved with the advent of these fob top-ups occurring over the internet, thus meaning that these fallible machines will be replaced – only time will tell whether this works better than our past ways, but  I certainly hope this change is for the better. At a future business meeting after Easter, senior members of staff will discuss the issue of the better filling of vendors.

·         Blazers
o   Younger Years opposed (KS3)
o   Years 10 & 12 interested
o   Jumper would be optional
o   Not aware of previous trial/survey conducted
Not enough interest for Blazers to be enforced

·         6th Form Participation in School Council
o   Form meetings once a week & no more assembly
o   Feedback tends to be general on a passing basis
o   Assemblies will be once a fortnight next year (more opportunity for feedback)
o   Suggestion Box in Scholars to increase issue awareness
o   Wall display in E block to showcase School Council meetings/minutes

·         After School Fitness Provision
o   Question from Year 11 Girls, why has gym moved?
o   Gym use now at a cost and at an inconvenient time (6:30pm)
o   Previous provision was voluntarily by Olie Trotman
o   Potential of 5x60 officer carrying out class or employing Olie directly to take class
o   Through 5x60 would be free and may be able to go back to usual time

·         Parking
o   Issue for Year 12 & 13
o   Police Attention & Residents complaints
o   Vale Youth Forum chasing up issue and are in talks with Council
o   Letter to  be sent to Council regarding opening of Old 6th Form for Parking Area
o   Over summer Old 6th Form to fall into School’s hands

·         GCSE Taster Classes
o   Taster classes for new GCSE subjects such as: Sociology, Psychology, Business etc
o   Classes to be conducted before options completed to help with choices
o   Plans in place to do so next year before Christmas

·         Fob Machines & Vending
o   Main canteen vendors not re-stocked enough
o   Fob machines not working (all stations)
o   Vendors helping queuing in main canteen
o   Business meeting after Easter to request better filling of vendors

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Our First term...

Hi, my name is Elliott Macneil, I am in year 11 and I am going to be the Communications Officer – bringing you up to date with what is happening in school council over this school year. In this post, I shall be running you through the first meeting, also the school council training day in Barry, and the second meeting. Enjoy!

First School Council Meeting of the Year

The first meeting of the school council got underway on the 21st of October in the conference room in E-block. We firstly introduced the new members of the school council, before talking about the past issues that the school has experienced, what last year’s school council did to solve the issue, and whether the issue still exists.
First up on the agenda was the recurring issue of toilets, something that had been brought up at pretty much every single meeting last year (I should know!) We talked about the past lock issues and how they had been remedied over the course of last year, along with the occasional lack of soap.

Next up on the list was the scheduling of the extra-curricular activities for the pupils. Last year, it was felt that many of the sporting opportunities were clashing with many others – making for less choice. Many of the activities have now been moved around – perhaps with a little bit more shuffling, we can get the perfect arrangement of sport and other extra-curricular activities to offer for the pupils.

Thirdly, we discussed the topic which was another repeating theme – the canteen. Last year, the canteen was refurbished, with an extra part added onto the canteen to make sure that pupils lining up for lunch or break, wouldn’t get cold or soaking wet in what we would like to call “classic British weather”. (This also doubled up as some more seating area). With this building still in its infancy, we talked about the issues that some of the year groups brought up about the logistics of the facility still not working totally as planned. Some food for thought for the next meeting I suppose!

Next on the agenda was the pupils nominated charities. Last year, we experimented with the idea of limiting our main charities to donate to, to three – The Cerys Potter foundation, The Goegedacht trust, and Cancer Research UK, with the money being shared three-way between the charities. However, this year decided to change the charities from three to two, with the final portion of money going back to the school for equipment, etc. We decided that the form groups would find the two charities that our fund raising efforts would go to (which at the time of writing, is The Noahs Arc Trust and Cancer Research UK, with Help For Heroes and Teenage Cancer Research being others mentioned). It was also noted that the amount of money that could actually have been raised on the past year’s non-school uniform days was not as much as expected, which means that in future, form reps will make sure that everyone participating in the fundraising day will contribute – it’s only fair!

Last but not least, the school council emphasised how important communication was for the future, as it being one of the key points on how the school council should improve. The constitution was signed, and that was the end of a very productive meeting for the school council. I hope we can be even more successful than last year!

School Council Training

On the 13th of November, 4 pupils, accompanied by Mrs Chapman went to the Barry Memorial Hall for a school council training day, organised by the Vale Youth Forum. The day started rather awkwardly, with all of the schools staying relatively close together, but over the course of this enlightening day, the coordinators made everyone feel as if we were all part of one big team – contributing and helping one another out to make each of our school councils better.

The first of the workshops brought us all together to introduce ourselves and to say what our school council has done to make an impact – either in the school or in the local community. This was a very surprising exercise, as I had never thought how much a group of pupils could do – acting on the advice of their respective year groups – to make a difference. From logistics, to the canteen, to even the school car parks, the school councils from all over had really made a change for the better! After this activity, we prepared a speech (on the spot) to present to the other schools about our school council. We were surprised to find the diversity among us, with one school even holding charity events of some form or another every week! Other schools, such as Stanwell had differing systems to ours in terms of electing the year reps, and I’m sure that each and every school took away something from this experience to make their school council even better.

But that was just the start! We were also treated to a wealth of talks on various extra-curricular opportunities, ranging from “Rights Ambassadors” (a course teaching you on the fundamental rights of the child – the UNCRC for anyone interested) to even listening to some members of the Vale Council about the future cuts to be made to certain services, and giving our opinions on what should be done to these libraries on this matter. At the end of the day, this was a very interesting day, both for me, and for the others. I really hope that I can apply this knowledge in the future to making the school council even better.

Second School Council Meeting of the Year

The second meeting took place on the 25th of November, once again in E block, where we kicked off with the idea of charities, where the charity committee (comprising of Arthur Jones and Megan Warburton) re-established the links to how they would effectively manage the possible charity days. Next, we discussed the never ending issue of toilets, where – surprising the issues seemed to have thinned out from the forms! There was a unanimous decision over the fact that the gender signs in the unisex A block toilets being beneficial to the users. We also discussed the ideas of B and C block being refurbished, although it was clear that this is more of a long term goal, rather than a short term one. Furthermore, the E block toilets were reaffirmed to be for 6th form only.

After this, the behaviour policy was looked at where there were some visible problems. This was summed up by the fact that some teachers were not using the behaviour point system for (what some pupils called) “real behaviour problems”. These behaviour points were sometimes given for lack of equipment, where the head boy and head girl will bring this up later, to see if any real progress has been made on the clarity of the behaviour system, and whether it should be updated.

In terms of the canteen, a few things were brought up in this meeting, such as the queuing system not being as effective as it could be, and the fact that some pupils requested more variety in terms of hot meals. What was also discussed in this meeting, like the last, was the fact that a shelter is needed for the pupils queuing up outside the canteen – although it was agreed that this was a long term plan at this point in time. Finally on the canteen front, the head boy and head girl will be making a 6th form survey to be carried out on the canteen.

Last year, the house system was discussed as potentially being reintroduced, to bring back a more competitive side to the forms. Due to other pressing issues despite some development last year in the house system,  it didn’t really get going. During our second School Council Meeting, this was addressed and solutions were put forward on what can be done to make this idea work. Among the suggestions given for the possible competitions were; cookery, a science fair and a sports day among others.
Due to the immense scale and complexity of the project, it is clear that that Jack and Megan will need to talk about this to the individual departments.

Thank you for reading the first post about the school council!
Elliott Macneil

Communications officer

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Youth Mayor Election Results

On behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service and The Point Team I would like to thank you for all your help in making Local Democracy Week 2014 a success and for enabling young people across the Vale to have the opportunity to vote for their first Youth Mayor. 

Thank you for giving up your time to vote.      

Due to your cooperation we were able to hold elections at 32 different locations over the course of Local Democracy Week and in total 2754 young people voted.     

Both candidates would have been equally deserving winners.  The Deputy Leader of the Council announced the winner at the Vale Youth Forum meeting on Monday 20th October.  The first Youth Mayor of the Vale of Glamorgan is Tom Chandler. 

If you would like to contact the Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor in the future to raise any issues or get involved with the Vale Youth Forum, contact valeyouthcabinet@gmail.com.  

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Local Democracy Week at Cowbridge

The big week has arrived - it is Local Democracy Week. Local Democracy Week is an annual national event which aims to raise young people’s awareness of how local councils operate, tell them about the opportunities available for taking part in decision-making at local level and, as a result, draw their attention to how them taking part in local affairs is crucial in maintaining effective local democracy.

Cowbridge Comprehensive students are getting involved this week in a number of ways. Firstly,the new School Council Representatives are being elected in Years 7, 10 and 12. The School Council Representatives have taken part in assemblies to outline why they should be chosen as the Year Council Rep and on Thursday and Friday, forms will have the opportunity to vote for their choice of rep. 

Secondly, two of the schools Vale Youth Forum Representatives have been into assemblies to publicise its work and the benefits that engagement in local democracy can bring. 

Finally, on Thursday students will have the opportunity to vote for the first Youth Mayor. This is your opportunity to vote for the person you think will make the best Youth Mayor and represent you! Students can vote for the new Youth Mayor at lunchtime in the main reception. The two candidates for the position are Tom Chandler (17) of Stanwell School and Emily Peters (15) who studies at St Richard Gwyn School - both of whom are already members of the elected Vale Youth Forum.

Bethan Watkins from the Vale Youth Service will be there if students have questions about getting involved in the Vale Youth Forum. 

So this week get involved in Local Democracy Week and make sure your voice is heard!