Pupils from 11 post primary schools have enjoyed an opportunity to speak directly with elected members about the issues which matter to them at Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Pupil Voice event.
The initiative, organised by Council’s Good Relation team, was facilitated by broadcaster Mark Carruthers and Peter Osborne from Rubicon. Young people are at the heart of the event, and as future leaders and decision makers they put themselves forward to participate and develop greater awareness about their civic responsibility.
This project supports the Education Authority’s existing Mainstreaming and CASE Shared Education Partnerships for schools within the Ballymoney, Limavady, Dungiven, Coleraine and Ballycastle areas. It has helped embed Shared Education, and gives pupils a chance to work with their current partner schools while meeting and collaborate with others.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Councillor Ivor Wallace, was one of those who participated. Speaking afterwards he said: “Pupil Voice is an important project for both elected members and pupils. It gives us all the opportunity to have discussions about what matters in local communities while helping to encourage positive change around issues that impact young people and their peers.
Eimhear McGarry, Shared Education Officer from the Education Authority noted: “It has often been highlighted by ETI and through several Evaluation Reports, that Pupil Voice is an area which needs to be developed further, across all schools and partnerships, to help shape and inform practice.
“We are delighted to offer this Pupil Voice project to local schools in the Borough, allowing students to engage in shared learning experiences focusing on the promotion of the voice of young people, exploring sensitive and controversial issues that are relevant to them, while helping build confidence, resilience, citizenship, leadership skills, and raising awareness about diversity which has accumulated in them having the opportunity to engage with their local council representatives to ask the hard-hitting questions pertinent to them.”
Mark Carruthers, who facilitated the event, said: “It’s always a positive to see young people so engaged with politics. They drove the agenda for the conversations with the councillors and they were determined to get answers to their questions. It was quite something to see how confident they were in tackling some big and, at times, controversial subjects so openly and directly. I think they learned a lot from the experience – and I suspect the councillors did too!”
Gerard McIlroy, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council’s Good Relations added: “We are delighted with the response from schools and it’s great to see our elected members from across the political spectrum getting together with some of the area’s younger residents and listening to the discussions that emerge. This project is pivotal in bringing young people from different backgrounds together while also allowing their voice to be heard by elected members regarding local issues.”
A participating pupil commented: “It was good to speak directly to elected members and bring their attention to local issues the youth in our communities’ face.”
Another said: “I enjoyed being able meet the councillors and have an informal conversation about concerns I have regarding the voice of youth not influencing decisions at local level.”
This project has received financial support from The Executive Office. For further information, contact Good Relations Officer Gerard McIlroy by telephoning 07517498458 or by emailing [email protected].