This programme explores the question of democracy in schools. It begins with newsreel material of pupils who demonstrated in May 1972 against the lack of pupil participation in the organisation of ...their schools. We then see film taken at King Edward VI School, Totnes, where there is some pupil representation through a School Council. The democratic arrangements at Countesthorpe College in Leicestershire are also shown through still photographs and pupils' comments about the system. The Course Unit author, Adam Westoby, introduces these sections and then chairs a discussion, (which forms the second part of the programme), between John Watts, Head of Countesthorpe College; Peter Snape, Head of King Edward VI School, Totnes; and Laurie Green member of the NUT National Executive and Head of Northfield Comprehensive in Birmingham. From the specific situation of the different systems in both schools, they move on to discuss more generally the question of power and control within the school.
|Module code and title:
|E221, Decision making in British education systems
|First transmission date:
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|Laurie Green; Peter Snape; John Watts; Adam Westoby
|BBC Open University
|Control; Countesthorpe College, Leicestershire; Democracy in schools; King Edward VI School, Totnes; Power; Pupil demonstrations; School Council
|Song (Election blues) being played over collage of headlines etc, linking protest, voting, democracy with schools' rights and children's rights. To a background of school children on protest marches, Adam Westoby outlines the reasons for the school strikes in 1972. This is followed by interviews with children about their grievances: dinners, uniforms, caning. Excerpt from Conference of National Union of School Students and piece from the President Mary Attenborough about what sort of democracy is meant. Adam Westoby investigates how one particular school council - King Edward VI School, Totnes - operates; its make up, its power. Peter Snape (on film) explains how he sees it as the headmaster, whilst two pupils, chairman and secretary explain their role and give criticism. Democratic liberal view: Intermingling of collectivist and individualist approach, is the principle behind the council. Westoby gives another example of a slightly different form of school council - Countesthorpe College, Leicestershire.This has a small weekly committee and a larger termly moot. Over still shots of such a small meeting and its discussion, there are general comments from pupils on how well or otherwise the whole school council idea works. Is it to big, too boring, unimportant, how could it be improved etc. Back in the studio Westoby discusses with John Watts, Peter Snape and Laurie Green the whole concept of school Councils. Are they universally applicable? What sort of council? What about the other bodies in the educational process - teachers, parents etc? How do you deal with the different age groups? Peter Snape emphasises the speed of the learning process, so that mistakes could be crucial. The problem of pupils having different opinions being of different ages and with changing opinions is mentioned. Children are also temporary members of the school, so who should have final control. The problem of spheres of competence curriculum, etc is expanded as is the role of rank and file teachers - is it consultative or decision making? Westoby closes the discussion by asking what effect and interplay there is between democracy in the school and democracy on a state level. What is learnt from school councils?
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