Front Row (left to right) – Damaris Coroama,Sami Ahmed, Alina Zincovscaia, Alexandra Uncheasu, Anthony Suia, Belmir Bajagilovic, Borys Railean, Argent Bala, Maria Bus. Back row left to right – Adedayo Sobowale, David Musa, Leo Howard, Ewan MacLeod, Christopher Jackson-Suia, Masuab Khan, Osas Usunobun, Belal Ijawi, Leo Heinen. Missing from photo – Claire O'Carroll, Uma Shankar Nair, Richard Disha, Max Zahharov, Alexandra Popa, Ella Pop.
The Student Council in Castaheany Educate Together National School is a wonderful example of democracy and political participation at work in school! Educate Together schools are encouraged to establish student councils, made up of students chosen by their classmates to help share their ideas, interests and concerns with their teachers and principal.
As a group, the Student Council in Castaheany Educate Together National School are obviously very proud of their chance to represent their class and their school. As one student put it, ‘I like that the Student Council means that everyone has their voice heard and a chance to have their say.’
Recently, they’ve been working hard on a project that serves their local area of Ongar Village. Thanks to their weekly clean up of Ongar playground and green area, they noticed that the only playground in Ongar had fallen into a state of disrepair.
Junior Infants Protest in Ongar Playground
According to the students, the playground equipment had been broken and the area was so badly vandalized that ‘it isn't even really a playground anymore’. In order to try and get their playground repaired and maintained, they made signs for Junior Infants to hold in the playground and a petition of 400 signatures was presented to their local TD, Leo Varadkar.
Although they are still waiting on Fingal County Council to take responsibility for the playground, they are confident that their campaign will make a difference; Alexandra Uncheasu says that she hopes they will at least fix her favourite part of the playground, the swings.
The Student Council also works on issues within the school community. At each meeting, the 24 students, who represent classes from 1st to 6th class, discuss suggestions they have received from their classmates and decide what is important enough to bring to Principal Mary Healy for consultation.
A Chairperson and a Secretary, senior students who have already served two years on the Student Council, lead the meetings.
Some of the triumphs of this system include weekly 'Friendship Fridays', where the whole school can play together in the yard, instead of being segregated by age. They are also delighted to have campaigned successfully for improvements in the pupil bathrooms!
Student Councils are a great way for students to experience democracy in action, as recommended by the Justice and Equality Strand of the Learn Together.
The students in Castaheany Educate Together are chatty and self-assured as they discuss their work with the student council, confident that their opinions matter and that they can create change in their communities!
Jenny Dunne, Educate Together Communications Intern