One of the challenges for schools wishing to put Pupil Voice into action is whether or not participation is authentic or merely tokenistic. In this blog we look at how children in Year 6 in Glyncollen Primary School took their highly rated ideas forward to research and action.
Using VocalEyes for Pupil Voice the children of the school had prioritised ‘going plastic free’. Head teacher, Anna Bolt could see immediately that this was an important topic that called for children to become researchers. Each class in the juniors set out to investigate plastics and to look at what would be involved in becoming plastic-free.
Pupil enquiry and research is a very powerful tool for young people to explore those topics that they themselves have prioritized as important. The year 6 class journey was impressive. Glyncollen is a Bronze Award Philosophy for Children school and so the children are used to raising questions and categorising them. They identified many research questions as well as ethical ones and set about their enquiries. They used a range of innovative ways to present their learning through blogs and videos and other media-inspired reporting. They wrote poems and created narratives to express how strongly they felt about the future of our planet.
VocalEyes and Dialogue Exchange went to see them near the end of term to find out about the journey they had been on. Our purpose was to capture their story to investigate plastic use in their school and to help the young people show how a commitment to participatory democracy had empowered them to be activists in their own communities.
We wanted to support them to create a video to chart their journey that could be shared with other schools wishing to adopt participatory practices and to disseminate the video to parents, other schools and local authorities.
What we did
Pete and Sue arrived in the school and met with Year 6. They responded enthusiastically to the prospect of making a video and we suggested they adopt the style of the children’s Newsround programme. We agreed the format for the day as follows:
9.15 – 10.00
- The class mapped the story of the class’s journey from the introduction of VocalEyes, prioritising ‘going plastic-free’ and research into plastics. From this the young people identified a campaign issue and activated a campaign. Finally they identified next steps to reducing plastic in the school.
10.00 – 10. 30
- Viewing and deconstructing of a Newsround programme so the children thoroughly understood the different processes involved in putting a short news item together.
10.45 – 12.00
- Identify specific jobs for each person/groups of people
- Two presenenters to introduce the programme and cue in the various reporting teams
- Teams to take responsibility for different items in the programme
- Indentify children who wanted to make a creative responses to the problems of plastic
- Identification of locations for filming
- Identification of others outside the class to be involved in filming
Groups to storyboard each item for the programme:
- Where items for the programme will be shot
- How often location will be changed
- Is involved in each shot
- A director to oversee each shot
- Someone to film
- Someone to take responsibility for making sure props in the right place at the right time
- What props needed for each item of filming
- Someone responsible for gathering props together
- How will it be framed?
- Long short? (from a distance to establish the scene)
- Medium shot (showing upper part of body)
- Close up (showing just head and shoulders – better for dialogue)
- Try to shoot each scene from different angles/perspectives to see which works best
- Each group worked to script their aspect of the film and rehearse it.
- Decisions to film involving the infants drinking milk organized
- Eco-committee of the school invited to tell their story of visiting the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ office
- The two ‘presenters’ of the programme took responsibility for coordinating filming and checking scripts, scheduling order of filming and liaising with others who were to be involved.
1.00 – 3.20 Filming
The afternoon was extremely busy as each group was filmed in turn. The creative group produced a poem and the presenters coordinated the order of presentation.
Future Generations News
We think you will agree the final result is, as one of the children said, “Awesome!”
These young people have been engaged in truly participatory democracy. From the prioritisation of ‘going plastic-free’ to their role as researchers and co-inquirers they have developed a campaign to target their governing body, local councillor, local council, the Children’s Commissioner and their local Welsh Assembly member. Their campaign to reduce the use of plastic bottles for children’s milk involved extensive research into alternatives and how much plastic could be saved if their proposal was to be adopted.
They know that they are key members of not only their school, but their local community, town and country. They have exercised leadership and been genuinely involved in participatory democracy. They have learned what it means to try and turn their good ideas into action. As their head teacher, Anna said:
This is such an effective way of engaging pupils in the democratic process.
Year 6 are leaving us now but they have started something that the school will continue with as we plan a concert to share with parents the children’s concern for the natural environment.
The children started with digital democracy and have ended up community reporting on their ideas through the video.
I think it’s fantastic.
Let’s leave you with Megan and Sophie’s poem:
The Death Of
Plastic gliding through the cryptic sea,
dolphins darting by.
The silence heavy in the unbreathable air,
the dolphins didn’t deserve to die.
A bird stoops down, curiosity gleaming in his eyes,
plastic lies on the deserted sand.
One man’s waste is another man’s treasure,
the bird gets stuck and joins death’s band.
A turtle creeps along the shore,
plastic lying there.
The turtle thought she had found a friend,
the humans just don’t care.
Now you know what happens, please, help out,
these creatures don’t deserve this pain.
How would you like it?
Please get off the animal abuse train.