HEADLINES

Glynncollen primary school ended the academic year with a flourish! Having prioritised ‘reducing plastics’ in the school they orchestrated their campaign to change the way free milk is provided to the Foundation Phase in their school. Their simple plan was to ask the local authority to consider other ways of supplying the milk. Currently the milk is delivered in 150ml bottles. The young people want this to be changed to 2 litre bottles and for the milk to be dispensed into stainless steel bottles.

Glyncollen Primary school pupils with 150ml milk bottles
Glyncollen Primary school pupils with 150ml milk bottles

They wrote to the politicians in their local ward, local authority and Welsh Assembly. The Environment Minister, Hannah Blythyn, AM wrote to the children to congratulate them on their campaign and provided lots of advice on how they could continue their journey towards plastic-free.

The children themselves decided to raise money to buy the stainless steel bottles and will hold a sponsored walk in September to raise the money.

Glyncollen Primary school with their new stainless steel water bottles
Glyncollen Primary school with their new stainless steel water bottles

Think of the knock-on effects from this one consumer choice. If we all did this we would save the millions of barrels of oil that is used for the sole production of disposable plastic bottles. We would save water – the manufacture of plastic bottles takes more water than the bottle actually contains. We would not have to transport the bottles from the factory to the consumer burning gallons of oil-derived diesel and petrol – that has to be good for global warming. And we will have stopped this indestructible substance filling our landfill and entering the oceans to interact with the entire ecosystem of the planet.

ROLL OUT TO SCHOOLS IN CARDIFF: UPDATE

We are busy preparing for the next stage of embedding the VocalEyes platform in all schools in Cardiff. In September 50 primary schools will send one teacher for an afternoon to find out how to become a Participatory Democracy Champion in their school. The teachers will be taught how to introduce and manage VocalEyes Pupil Voice ready to return to school and train the School Council. Schools will be delighted to find out that the platform will support the implementation of the Donaldson Curriculum. In particular one of the core purposes of the new curriculum in Wales is that pupils and young people develop as:

Ethical, informed citizens of Wales and the world and lead fulfilling lives as valued members of society.

It is hard to imagine how this will be achieved without the children and young people gaining an understanding of democracy and how the different levels of democracy affect them.

Fortunately the work from Glyncollen can point the teachers in the right direction. Here the pupils have demonstrated their understanding of democracy, democratic values and democratic processes through their campaign to reduce plastic use in their school. They now know who the head of Swansea Council is, whom their local councillor is, what ward they live in and how they can become participants in democracy now – these young people are therefore grappling with the issues Donaldson identified – ethical issues such as sustainability and social justice. They have gained an ability to deal with these issues by becoming active citizens and in the process gained confidence in their capacity to exert influence in their own school and community. Donaldson would be proud!

Glyncollen Primary School Pupils - Timeline of participatory democracy and action - Jan to Sept 2018
Glyncollen Primary School Pupils – Timeline of participatory democracy and action – Jan to Sept 2018

BRINGING MORE SCHOOLS INTO THE VOCALEYES FAMILY

In September we start working with case study schools in Merthyr and Blaena Gwent. Head Teachers in these authorities are looking forward to getting started and finding out how VocalEyes can be an integral component of implementing the Donaldson Curriculum in their schools.

PARENTKIND

In June, working in partnership with Tracey Handley of Parentkind in Wales, we launched Parent Voice in Burry Port Primary in Carmarthenshire. The school had already introduced Pupil Voice and the young people of the School Council spent two afternoons welcoming parents and introducing them to the platform. We are looking forward to taking this work forward by introducing Parent Voice into 5 case-study schools in the new term.

August Update – Putting the “P” into Participatory Democracy