Education Quandary

'We sit on our primary school council, but nothing that we say makes any difference. What can we do?'
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Hilary's advice

This is unusual. School councils are very common, and mostly well-run. When this happens, pupils know that their views are valued and heeded. As they should be. Pupils have great ideas about how schools can be improved. They contribute practical ideas about uniforms and bullying and after-school clubs, and if they are allowed to help interview for new teachers they usually spot the best candidate.

Either your school council isn't working properly and you are right that your views are being ignored. Or, your views are being listened to, but it isn't possible for the school to put them into practice for some reason, maybe to do with money, health and safety concerns, or problems with space or the timetable. However, it has not had the courtesy to explain to you why. Either way, the school has let you down. Raise how you feel either privately, with whoever runs the council, or formally at a meeting. Before you do this, make a list of the times you feel your views have been brushed aside and your requests ignored. Say how you feel and make clear how you want things to change so that pupils play their proper part in running the school. Ask that this is monitored and then reviewed.

Readers' advice

When I set up a school council, I got a business trainer to show us how to run meetings. If you are going to have a council, you have to make sure everyone understands how it is going to run. Otherwise you will create more problems than you solve.
Mike Gordon, Northamptonshire

If children are told they can help to run their school, and are then ignored by adults when they speak up, it is likely to make them very cynical about getting involved with their communities when they are older.
Lesley Pointer, Medway

Next quandary

My daughter, who is in Year 12, has started to say she won't go to university. She says it isn't worth it. She says she will do better if she goes straight to work. We are shocked. Everyone else in our family has a degree.

Send letters or quandaries to Hilary Wilceat 'The Independent', Education Desk, Independent House, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS; or fax: 020-7005 2143; or e-mail: Include details of your postal address. Readers whose letters are printed will receive a Berol Combi Pack