Flourishing@Wycombe: Pupil Voice

Pupil voice is an important part of any school life. Sharing their thoughts and opinions can be a formative experience for pupils and it is important that we hear their views. Having the opportunity to act as representatives for their peers on school councils and learning more about the democratic process is a very valuable experience.  It can also be really fun! I have always loved the time that I have spent in Wycombe Abbey School Council meetings and felt it a privilege to watch a series of Head Girl Teams chair meetings in a mature, purposeful and thoughtful way. The energy and excitement generated by pupils in discussing the school they are so proud to attend, is wonderful to see.

Here at Wycombe Abbey, we try to make sure that there are many ways for pupils to have their voice heard and to help shape the growth of the School. The School Council is one obvious forum. Older and younger pupils from each House are elected to represent their boarding House, another pupil from each year group is elected to represent their year as well as representative from our Day Boarding community being chosen by election. These representatives speak with their peers to find out more about their school experience and meet each half term to raise the issues of the day. They also do much more than this, over the last year we have invited a variety of different members of staff from particular areas of school life to attend School Council meetings and to hear from pupil representatives. They have met with Miss Blunt (Head of Wellbeing) to help shape the development of our wellbeing curriculum, with Mrs Kiln (Head of Careers) to discuss careers provision and Mr Vaccaro (Director of Learning and Innovation) to discuss the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on issues such as prep. We are looking forward to Mrs Young, our Health Centre Manager, joining our next School Council meeting.

In recent years, the School Council has also conducted an annual project which has given pupils the opportunity to experience how to plan and implement something as part of a team. Last year, the School Council held a “matron appreciation day” to express their gratitude to the matrons who help them so much during their time at School, plans are already afoot for this year’s project, and I am sure that the girls will do a wonderful job in creating something special.

Food is, inevitably, an important part of pupil voice and our dedicated Food Committee meet each half term with me and our school caterers Holroyd Howe. They provide really useful feedback on the current menu, on things that they enjoy and changes that they wish to see. This, alongside new menu surveys, have allowed us to introduce new dishes that pupils enjoy and make changes where necessary such as food provision including adding additional detail to menus so pupils have greater awareness of what they can look forward to at mealtimes and for their daily snacks.

Another stalwart of our pupil voice provision is Listening@Wycombe. This online form allows pupils to share their ideas quickly and at any time during the term. Each submission is read and explored and pupils receive feedback each month about what their peers have raised and action that the school can take. It is always good to see the practical and thoughtful suggestions brought forward by pupils; things such as creating posters that allow pupils to know “what’s cooking” at the weekly cookery club, finding new areas of the school that can be left to re-wild and displaying which classrooms will be available for pupils to complete private study, have all been items that we have been able to take forward and changes we have been able to make.

These pupil voice activities work alongside the great work that the prefect team do as representatives of their peers and pupils. They work closely with staff to keep improving school life and the different ways pupils can raise ideas in their own boarding Houses. At the heart of good pupil voice in a school is a shared commitment by pupils and staff to work together to create the best community that we can in school. Hearing from bright, ambitious young people about the world in which they live is something that we have always looked to embrace and hopefully something that helps our pupils understand the difference that they can make to world around them.

Mr James Jones
Deputy Head (Pupils)

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