Some school authorities have district-level student councils.
District-level councils are teams of students ranging from elementary to high school who represent the student population of their school authority.
The councils usually work with their school authority leadership and board trustees on educational issues and topics that impact students, student learning, student well-being and school life. It is important that representation on the council mirrors the diversity of the school authority’s student population. It is equally important that the council considers how students of all ages are valued and heard regardless of whether they have positions on the council.
There is a wide range of district-level councils: Some are in the beginning stages of building a vision, outcomes and a term of reference, and others are further along. In some cases, a district-level council serves an advisory role, whereby students are brought together to offer advice to school boards or senior leadership on specific policies or initiatives. Other councils are more involved in helping create policy or leading design projects in their schools. Finally, some councils play a collaborative role with their school authorities by participating in decision-making processes.
It is important that councils evaluate their work, so that they can continue to grow and evolve over time.
Examples of District-level Councils:
District-level councils play very different roles depending on the level of engagement students have with system leadership and board trustees, and on the outcomes desired. Each school authority is unique, which means there is not one set model. Currently in Alberta, different types of councils include:
Regardless of the model chosen, the intent is that students are able to provide input on school authority and school level initiatives that impact their educational experiences.
Roles within a District-level Student Council
Many people can be involved with a district-level student council. An important first step is to create a Terms of Reference for your council. This will help you to determine the roles of everyone involved.
School authority leaders, the Board of Trustees and/or Superintendent, will need to determine the staff members who will lead the council. Some school authorities have the Board of Trustees, and/or Superintendent act as the council coordinator(s). Other councils are led by coordinators who have been designated by school authority leaders.
Council coordinators are the staff members responsible for creating and managing the district-level student councils. They work closely with both the school authority leaders and the students on the council.
School Principals and Lead Teachers help ensure that council members are being supported in their role at the school level. For example, principals or lead teachers may be asked to help with recruitment and selection of student members, and/or become involved with specific council and student engagement activities.
Students are members of the district-level council. They represent all students at their schools. At times, a council may also ask other students what is important to them. This can be done by working with local school student councils, leadership classes, and other student groups. District-level council students may take on roles as engagement planners, advisors, researchers, participants at events, respondents to surveys, facilitators, presenters, keynote speakers or committee/council members.
Alberta Education offers online resources and supports for interested school authorities to help them with planning, implementation and evaluation of district-level councils.