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Ofsted 2010 - 'Citizenship established?' publication

Ashley High School is featured as one of 15 exemplar schools on citizenship.

'Our citizenship': Ashley High Special School, Halton

Our school is designated for students with moderate learning difficulties combined with social and emotional needs. Many of these students live in the two most socially and economically deprived wards in the borough.

One of the features of the school is a very strong student voice which enables the students to contribute to almost every aspect of decision-making. The many student committees in school give the students the opportunity to express opinions and make decisions in contexts such as human rights, health and safety, the environment and sport and leisure. There is also a thriving peer mentor group.

We strive to raise the self-esteem and social awareness of all our students and to furnish them with a good understanding of how laws and important decisions which directly influence them are made. All students at Ashley High School are part of their class council which elects a representative to sit on the school council. Elections for the school council mirror the local election process with nominations, speeches, and formal voting. All students are given an electoral roll number and taught how to vote in a secret ballot. Completed ballot papers are placed in a black metal ballot box. Votes are counted and classes informed of the results.

The school council meets regularly each week and discusses issues of importance to students, both within school and wider, topical issues on a local, national and global scale. Many of these issues come from suggestions made by students in class council time. We have a purpose-built school council chamber which was designed in consultation with school council members. Central to the school council table is the mace. The significance of this is explained to incoming and newly elected members, who are trained to enhance their communication and presentation skills. Minutes of meetings and agendas are viewed on whiteboard and plasma screens. Equipment is directly accessible to students with a wide variety of physical, sensory and intellectual disabilities. The council elects a chairperson who conducts the meetings with the assistance of a link teacher. School council minutes are sent to the next week’s class council to ensure all students are aware of what has been discussed and any recommendations or actions.

As well as visiting the Town Hall and Council Chamber, members of the school council travel to London each year to visit the Houses of Parliament and meet their local MP. Following the visit, the council holds a meeting with their MP in Portcullis House for a question and answer session on local, national and global issues. The questions asked are suggested by class council members, the school council itself and parents. Replies are fed back to class council meetings. Hence the actions of government and current political issues are brought right into the heart of the school and through active participation, students are given a voice to make change and influence Parliament. Students are better informed about parliamentary procedures and democracy.