On Tuesday 24 February 2015 we held our awards day for this year’s winning schools of the Speaker's School Council Awards. Young people from the North West of England to Wales met at Parliament to celebrate their inspiring school council projects.
We kicked off the day at Westminster Hall, with a tour of the Palace. Students heard about the history of Parliament and the art and architecture of the buildings which have come to be so recognised. It was only fitting that school councils who have had their first taste of democracy in the planning of their projects, were able to enjoy their achievements at the very heart of democracy, on the 750th anniversary year of Parliament. We had much to celebrate!
With our tummies full of sandwiches and our pockets full of chocolates, pencils and all things gold and green and stamped with a portcullis from the Parliamentary gift shop, we made our way to the Speaker’s Apartments. We navigated our way down the library corridor, where we had to be very quiet while MPs and other House staff weaved in and out of our groups. We took our seats and heard from Edge Watchorn, Head of Parliament’s Education Service, who started the ceremony off with a few words of congratulation to each of the ‘mini-parliamentarians’ present.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Rt. Hon. John Bercow MP then gave a warm welcome to the school councillors. Mr Speaker told the councillors that what he liked most about the winning projects was that they all looked outwards, beyond their schools to make valuable contributions to their communities.
The Speaker presented each school with a certificate and trophy. Each of the schools said a few words about their project. Ellie Phipps spoke with charm, warmth and humility on behalf of St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, who are winners in the 8-11 years category for their project Dementia Friends. She thanked the Speaker on behalf of her school council and informed the audience of her council’s goal to continue to build relations with their local care home, using the knowledge acquired from dementia training.
School Councillors from St Francis de Sales School accepted their trophy and certificate from the Speaker of the House of Commons
Sam Chick spoke on behalf of Ysgol Y Deri based in Wales, who are winners in the 17-19 category for School Construction Ambassadors. Sam presented a speech highlighting the key achievements of their project on three special schools joining together in harmony as a result of work led by the school council.
School Councillor Kayla Edwards from St Francis de Sales School, who are winners in the 4-7 years category for Intergenerational Ladies and Gents do School Dinners, made a speech at the presentation. Kayla is now the talk of the playground and has been holding court on her encounter with The Speaker.
The presentations made a strong impression on all present. Margaret Olukoga from Smart School Councils, said that the speeches were, 'heart-warming and it was amazing to hear about projects that show that young people are thinking about their effect on their community.'
Jessica Toogood from TrueTube said 'every single student and adult in the room had a smile on their face, and it is no surprise considering how creative the winning projects were.' This sentiment was echoed by MPs of winning schools present. Penarth and Cardiff South MP Stephen Doughty representing Ysgol Y Deri said: 'winning this award is a fantastic achievement… It’s a great example of the important work of school councils.' We couldn’t agree more!
After the presentation, we had tea and cakes and the school councillors had an opportunity to discuss the day with their MPs and take some photos in the grand setting of the Speaker’s Apartments.
We had but begun to digest our successes when we were whisked off to the new Education Centre site for the grand finale of the day; to bury a time capsule. A student from St Joseph’s Catholic Primary School said of the Education Centre Celebration Ceremony, 'I feel honoured to be a part of history, it was very exciting burying the time capsule.'
Sarah Rowlands, at teacher at Inscape House School, who are winners in the 11-16 category for their project AUWARE- Raising Autism Awareness in Local Schools said that the awards were 'a way of affirming that our young people within this Co-operative Academy are thinking about the well-being of others. They feel that they can make a difference to people’s lives.'
Dalwardin Babu OBE who works with St Francis de Sales School said of the day: 'Our children have not stopped talking about the day… Thank you for an amazing day which our children will never forget and will talk about for a long time to come.'
This has been a spectacular year for the Speaker’s School Council Awards. Thank you to all schools that participated in the competition and congratulations to winning schools. We too had an unforgettable awards day!
To view photographs from the Speaker's School Council Awards Day click here.
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