COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, today urged the Department of Education to make pupil participation in schools a priority.
Mrs Lewsley-Mooney was giving evidence to the Assembly Committee for Education’s School Council Inquiry.
“The work I have been doing on participation in schools has shown the power of an effective school council to enhance and improve school life,” she said. “The Committee has raised the issue and I welcome the inquiry as another step towards more children having a say in decisions that affect their lives.
“The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states in Article 12 that children should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives, and the committee, through this inquiry is making a clear commitment to realising that in schools.”
The Commissioner had undertaken work over several years to encourage and support the development of school councils, including work with key stakeholders.
“We worked with teachers and pupils to develop the Democra School programme, which is a detailed guide to setting up a school council or similar representative system.
“Since its launch, I have engaged with Department of Education officials and the Minister to advise them in the development of policy guidance on school councils. While this engagement has been positive, I have been disappointed at the lack of progress to date,” said the Commissioner.
“I believe the committee’s inquiry is the next step towards the development of a policy on school councils that will enable more pupils to participate meaningfully in school.
Ms Lewsley-Mooney concluded: “I hope my evidence to the Inquiry will the development of school councils and I congratulate the committee on making a commitment to children’s rights, particularly their right to have a say.”
Notes for editors
- You can view the Commissioners evidence to the Committee here, you can also view the document in MS Word format
- The Commissioner for Children and Young People was set up by Northern Ireland Assembly legislation in 2003. You can find out more here on the web site.
Later in November the Commissioner will:
* Launch the Mid-Term report on how Government is meeting the 2008 recommendations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (21st November)
* Announce the winners of the inaugural Commissioner’s Participation Awards (23rd November) and
* And in December the Commissioner will brief the Committee for the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister on the challenge of making sure children’s lives can be improved through government action