School Council

School Council

 

 

1943

I have been asked to write about the meaning and purpose of the newly formed School Council. These I have already explained to the School in general and the Councillors in particular, but a word to other readers of the magazine may be of interest, and what follows is meant more particularly for them.
The School Council is representative of all the boys in the School, representation increasing as one ascends from the first is tm to the sixth. The only ex officio members are the Prefects, the rest obtaining office by form election (though at present the whole of the sixth form is included.) The Council meets monthly in consider matters affecting the general welfare of the School, items of business being introduced by the members or sent along for discussion by the Headmaster and Staff. The suggestions agreed upon by the Council are then discussed in a Staff Meeting and the Headmaster subsequently either announces their adoption sir explains the reasons for non-acceptance. Neither the Headmaster nor any member of the Staff is present at the ordinary meetings unless specially requested, but the Headmaster may report decisions in person at a special meeting. The chair is taken by a boy. Among the duties of the Council is the election of Prefects, the Headmaster retaining a right of veto and a limited right of additional nomination. This is a very brief summary of the constitution.
The purpose of the establishment of the Council is two-fold. First, the fostering of the corporate spirit of the School and the direct identification of each boy in the School with its interests; it is an experiment, to the limit of what is possible, in the sharing of management by the boys. Secondly, the training of the boys In democratic method so that they can obtain a practical experience of the rights and duties of citizenship, experience which I hope will stand them in good stead and which they will use right through life.
Thus the Council should be both a training for, and a practice in democratic citizenship. The defeat of National Socialism and Fascism in the world will not in itself mean the triumph of the democratic idea: that will only be achieved by a much more active effort than in the past by each citizen, and a real feeling for the welfare and service of the community, and training in democratic leadership. That is the aim behind the experiment.
A stimulating present-day writer and speaker on education, Sir Richard Livingstone, holds, among many admirable theses, two with which I strongly disagree. One is that Civics or Social Studies should not be taught as a subject in schools, but can be acquired by incidental and occasional reference during the study of other subjects. The other is that only in the Public (boarding)
Schools is genuine community spirit and true leadership fostered. I believe that the day Grammar School has peculiar advantages at least as great as a Public School and opportunities no less fine. And I would like to argue them at length - but there is a paper shortage!
J.F.Elam

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