The adage about children being seen and not heard isn’t one that Dhoon Primary School subscribes to.
The 104-pupil school has become the first in the Island to gain a prestigious Investing in Children benchmark, for listening to pupils and acting on their opinions, since evaluators were appointed to drive the initiative forward locally.
Dhoon's pupils have played a part in setting class topics, introducing an afternoon break time, reorganising wet playtimes, running a book exchange, designing learning spaces, creating classroom displays – and much more.
Their input led to the school earning the Investing in Children award, which was presented at a celebration assembly today by Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, and DEC political member Juan Turner MLC.
This year, Nigel Bennett, Headteacher of St John’s Primary School, and Annette Baker, Deputy Headteacher of Ballakermeen High School, qualified to assess organisations in the Island bidding for the award. Their own schools were, up to that point, the only local holders.
To gain the award, organisations must prove they not only listen to, but act on, what children say. Evaluators meet children to check they believe their views have made a genuine difference to an organisation.
David Jenkins, headteacher, said pupil input at Dhoon comes via the School Council, made up of 2 representatives of each class, which encourages peers to come forward with suggestions, discusses their merits and assists pupils with beneficial ideas to bring them about.
'This means that any of our pupils has the opportunity to get involved and make their voice heard,' Mr Jenkins said. 'I'm delighted that the school has been awarded Investing in Children status. It's a prestigious award and one that reflects the ethos and attitudes of everyone at Dhoon. It shows that pupils here are able to have a real influence on things that directly affect them, from the organisation of lunchtime break to the way in which they show their learning in class. Now we’re looking forward to seeing how we can all work together to build on this success.'
Presenting the award, the Minister said:
'Encouraging pupils to have the confidence to come up with ideas and see them through to fruition is good preparation for adult life. It's great to see children at this small primary having such a positive influence on school life. I would like to congratulate the school and encourage along others that are aiming for Investing in Children status.'
Since Dhoon secured the award, Arbory Primary School has also earned it and is planning its own celebration, while 2 more primary schools are working towards it.
For more information about Investing in Children, contact:
+44 1624 801282
+44 1624 648700
Investing in Children was established in County Durham the 1990s by local authority and NHS managers. It helps young people to shape services provided for them by airing their views with the adults in charge. In 2004, the Investing in Children Development Agency was created to allow organisations outside of County Durham to use the approach. Ballakermeen High School and St John’s Primary School have held the award for 7 years. Youth groups, Government organisations, GPs' surgeries, health care providers and the police force as well as private organisations and charities are also eligible to apply for it.
From left, Dhoon School headteacher David Jenkins, Tim Crookall MHK, Minister for Education and Children, DEC member Juan Turner MLC and Nigel Bennett, local Investing in Children evaluator, with School Council members Layton Ballard, 6, Leah Goddard, 11, Fflur Hill, nine, Harry Read, 10, and Fin Hill, 9.