In my new role leading the School Council this year, I am excited to build on the successes that the team managed to achieve last year despite the turmoil of the pandemic. In the first few terms, we aim to work on a series of projects based on the broad themes of diversity, wellbeing and climate action. It will be a great opportunity for empowering students to make their voices and opinions heard to the wider school community. Miss Harrap
In what has been an unprecedented year, the School Council has continued to demonstrate their unwavering enthusiasm for and dedication to supporting and improving DGS for everyone. Here’s an overview of everything they achieved so far in 2020-21.
We started off in September by getting the School Council set up for a new academic year. This involved having some fantastic new members join the team and all year groups voting for the charities they would like to support this year. We had a strong focus on reconnecting our school community following last year’s disruption, so decided to link all of our projects in Term1 to the theme of kindness. This included a student voice survey about language used around the school site, an assembly on kindness and thinking about our interactions with each other, and a kindness poster competition.
Due to year groups being unable to mix, we wanted to have some events and projects that would bring everyone together while remaining in our bubbles. To mark the start of Anti Bullying Week in November we help an odd-socks day, which students from all year groups participated in. We raised the importance of Anti Bullying Week in an assembly, which built up to our socially distanced chalk-in. In this term, we supported Homeless Oxfordshire through our non-uniform day, and then organised an enormous donation from DGS to Didcot Food Bank, which every tutor group took part in. It was wonderful to see our school community working together to help the wider community in Didcot.
We started this term back in lockdown, which caused some disruption to our plans for the year. The first thing we did was arrange virtual School Council meetings so we could continue to think about ways we could support our school community in this period. We were able to share feedback about the student experience of remote learning and lockdown with school, and as we were reflecting on this we realised that the thing students were missing the most was the opportunity to have everyday conversations with others. Online lessons were fantastic and we were able to keep in touch with our friends easily through social media, but we weren’t talking to the same range of people as we were used to. To combat this, we launched an online discussion group which was open to students from all year groups. During this term we also created a video for staff, thanking them for all of the work they had been doing to make learning from home as interesting and engaging as possible.
We decided to focus on wellbeing upon our return from lockdown. We attended an online workshop with a charity worker from Oxfordshire mind, who shared some ideas about how we can improve conversations about wellbeing in school. As we approached the Easter holiday we asked members of staff to share what they would be doing to support their own wellbeing in the holidays. We compiled clips of them sharing their ideas in a video that was shared with students in the final week of term.
This term, the School Council drew on our work with Oxfordshire Mind to deliver an assembly to students on the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. As much as we focus on wanting to feel positive, we also reflected on the fact that no one has a great day all of the time and wanted to make sure students at DGS know these feelings are normal and valid. We made posters exploring the idea that it’s ok not to feel ok 100% of the time, and that bad days are something we all experience from time to time. We also asked staff to help in sharing these messages with students.
There have been lots of things to celebrate about the DGS community this year, but one thing we wanted to focus on was how diverse we are. To coincide with the diversity leaders running Cultural Diversity week, we organised a chalk-in to share the range of languages and cultures that can be found in our school. Looking ahead to next year, some members of the council worked with the catering team to think about the food that will be on offer for students from September and all of us are putting together a student voice survey to find out what projects they would like to see up and running from September.